Sri Lanka v England: Joe Root makes 168 not out as tourists build big lead
Captain Joe Root scored an unbeaten 168 as England built a substantial lead over Sri Lanka on the second day of the first Test in Galle.
|First Test, Galle (day two)|
|Sri Lanka 135: Bess 5-30, Broad 3-20|
|England 320-4: Root 168*, Lawrence 73; Embuldeniya 3-121|
|England lead by 185 runs|
Debutant Dan Lawrence made 73, adding 173 with Root to help the tourists close on 320-4, a lead of 185.
Although rain allowed only 53 overs in the day – the start was delayed by 70 minutes and no play was possible after tea – Root and Lawrence batted England into a position of total dominance.
Root played beautifully for his 18th Test century, his first since November 2019.
He will resume on Saturday alongside Jos Buttler, who is unbeaten on seven, and will be aiming to declare and bat only once on a pitch that is already breaking up and offering increasing turn and bounce.
Play will start 15 minutes earlier at 04:15 GMT on Saturday.
England said they were “not concerned” after reports that two members of staff at their hotel tested positive for Covid-19.
Root said: “All of the lads feel very safe at the moment and hopefully that continues throughout the tour.”
England’s limited-overs tour of South Africa was abandoned in December after a number of positive tests.
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Root lives up to his words
Root is often compared to India’s Virat Kohli, Australia’s Steve Smith and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson as England’s lynchpin, but he can fail to capitalise on starts.
Having reached 50 four times since his previous century, he said before this series that he needed to be “selfish” and turn starts into “big match-winning contributions”, and that “something big is around the corner”.
He was proved right on Friday
He overturned an lbw decision on 20 on day one, and survived an lbw review, when he was outside the line, off the second ball of day two, but he batted solidly, offering no catching chances to the fielders.
Root, unbeaten on 66 overnight, has a natural ability to rotate the strike that makes him a dangerous Test player, and he combined well with Lawrence, who found the boundary with more ease.
The sweep has always been one of Root’s strengths, and he played it superbly throughout his 254-ball innings, as he surpassed Kevin Pietersen’s 151 in Colombo in 2012 as the highest score by an England player in Sri Lanka.
“I did a lot of talking ahead of this game so it’s really pleasing to follow that through,” said Root.
“It is something I have always been desperate to do – convert fifties into big hundreds. Tomorrow I will be trying to make that another really big one.”
At the start of a busy year that includes nine Tests home and away against India, potentially two against world number one side New Zealand and a bid to regain the Ashes in Australia, this has so far been the perfect start for Root and England.