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England in Sri Lanka: Joe Root’s 186 keeps tourists’ hopes alive in second Test

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England in Sri Lanka: Joe Root's 186 keeps tourists' hopes alive in second Test 2

Joe Root overtook Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower in the list of England’s leading Test run-scorers during his innings
Second Test, Galle (day three of five)
Sri Lanka 381 (139.3 overs): Mathews 110, Dickwella 92; Anderson 6-40
England 339-9 (114.2 overs): Root 186, Buttler 55; Embuldeniya 7-132
England trail by 42 runs
Scorecard

Joe Root hit a magnificent 186 but his dismissal from the final ball of the third day left Sri Lanka with a slight advantage in the second Test in Galle.

Root, who scored 228 in the first Test, was superbly run out by Oshada Fernando at short leg to leave England 339-9.

The England skipper had led the tourists’ recovery from 132-4 to a position where they closed just 42 runs adrift of Sri Lanka.

Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya took a remarkable 7-132 for the hosts.

The 24-year-old, playing in only his ninth Test, dismissed Dom Bess and Mark Wood in the final half hour as Sri Lanka finished strongly on a day otherwise dominated by Root.

The right-hander put on 97 with Jos Buttler, who made 55, and shared a crucial stand of 81 for the seventh wicket with Bess.

Root’s innings – one of the finest of his career – saw him become the first England Test player since David Gower in 1985 to follow a double hundred with a score in excess of 150.

It prevented England conceding a significant first-innings deficit but, with him dismissed, Sri Lanka could still take a useful lead into their second innings.

England lead the two-Test series 1-0.

Exciting Test in the balance

Root, who battled cramp and stiffness throughout the afternoon on Sunday, had to drag himself from the field after his dismissal. He was four balls short of batting throughout the day.

The 30-year-old clipped a ball from Dilruwan Perera off his pads but it was brilliantly parried by Fernando, who then threw down the stumps from close range with Root coming up short with a weary dive.

Thirty minutes earlier, Root was batting serenely and Bess going well for his 32. England looked set to reach the close within touching distance of Sri Lanka with four wickets still intact.

A first-innings lead looked possible but an entertaining Test swung again.

Embuldeniya had Bess caught at slip with a ball that turned and Wood played a rash slog-sweep to nick the ball to the same fielder.

Jack Leach and James Anderson now face the task of getting England as close to Sri Lanka’s 381 as possible.

Any lead, on a pitch that is starting to turn for the spinners, could be crucial.

Root goes big again

Had it not been for Root, England would have been in even more trouble. He has scored 415 across the two Tests, almost half of England’s overall total of 836.

The Yorkshire batsman resumed on 67 and began as he finished day two, batting positively but seemingly without risk.

The rest of England’s line-up has struggled to cope with Embuldeniya, with Bairstow and Lawrence his first two victims of day three.

Bairstow was caught at gully for 28 from an inside edge via the pad and Lawrence nicked one that turned to slip for three, having already survived a missed stumping chance.

Alastair Cook 12,472
Graham Gooch 8,900
Alec Stewart 8,463
Joe Root 8,238
David Gower 8,231
Kevin Pietersen 8,181
Geoffrey Boycott 8,114

In contrast, Root serenely moved to his 19th Test century in 139 balls, before slowing in the company of Buttler. Buttler batted fluently until he bottom-edged a sweep on to his boot and into the hands of short leg.

Root returned to his more expansive shots as his partnership with Bess grew. He hit two switch-hit sweeps for four reminiscent of his former team-mate Kevin Pietersen.

It took until Root was on 172 before he offered a serious chance, an edge that went low to the left of first slip, again off the bowling of Embuldeniya.

He played largely on the leg side and showed he is an expert player of spin, a key attribute with England heading to India for a four-Test series after this match.

‘Sri Lanka are clear favourites’ – reaction

England wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler: “We’re in all awe of what Joe Root has just achieved. He barely put a foot wrong in the space of two days. It is fantastic to watch.

“Root is one of the finest players of spin in the world and for all of us in the dressing room it is a great strength to have, and someone to learn from.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “Sri Lanka are clear favourites in my mind with the three wickets at the end, but I really think England deserve some praise.

“Two years ago this was probably a day England would have collapsed and be looking down the barrel of a 150-run deficit. They have just hung in and given themselves a sniff.”

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