The Financial Express

Thirimanne leads Sri Lanka' fightback

| Updated: January 17, 2021 10:55:55

Thirimanne leads Sri Lanka' fightback

Lahiru Thirimanne's unbeaten 76 frustrated England as Sri Lanka fought back on the third day of the first Test in Galle.

Sri Lanka, who were bowled out for 135 in the first innings, showed significantly more resilience to reach 156-2 - trailing by 130 - after England had posted 421.

Joe Root progressed to a magnificent fourth Test double century before he was last man out for 228 as England lost their last six wickets for 49 runs, reports BBC.

Sam Curran and Jack Leach took a wicket apiece in Sri Lanka's second innings, but off-spinner Dom Bess rarely threatened on a pitch that has offered assistance to spin since day one.

Kusal Perera contributed 62 to an opening stand of 101 with the patient Thirimanne, who compiled his highest Test score since 2013 and will resume alongside nightwatchman Lasith Embuldeniya at 04:15 GMT on Sunday.

England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival in Sri Lanka, spent time at the ground in the afternoon after finishing his quarantine period.

Sri Lanka show character

For the first time in two years, England failed to take a wicket in the first 30 overs - with seamers Curran, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood finding the going tough given the minimal swing or seam movement on offer.

However, credit must be paid to the Sri Lanka openers. Thirimanne and Perera were criticised for their first-innings failures, and their century stand was the first time in six Tests Sri Lanka's opening pair had lasted longer than 10 overs.

Kusal Perera showed restraint - he scored at a strike-rate of 57, compared to 74 over his Test career - but hit Leach over mid-wicket for six and swept and also drove well before slapping a Curran long hop to wide third man.

Thirimanne, who averaged 22 in 70 Test innings before this match, was happy to play second fiddle to Perera, although he did find the leg-side boundary with flicks and sweeps.

Having taken 5-30 in the first innings, Bess failed to maintain a consistent length and allowed Thirimanne and Perera to play off the back foot too often.

Left-arm spinner Leach, who bowled more accurately, failed with a review for lbw against Thirimanne on 61 before having Kusal Mendis caught behind off a beautiful delivery that turned and bounced.

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