Day One of the first test was dominated by England as Dominic Bess’ takes 5 and Stuart Broad help bowl out a dismal Sri Lanka for a hopeless 135, before Joe Root unbeaten 66 put the tourists in controll.
It was a year in waiting but England finally started their tour of Sri Lanka, and even with a ground empty of fans, the game was delayed after one ball as there was someone moving behind the bowlers arm, typical.
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first in Galle, downheartend howveer with captain Karunaratne out with a broken thumb.
Changes to the England team saw Essex’ Dan Lawrence receive his first cap, Jonny Bairstow reinstated in the team at number 3, whilst former Somerset duo Dom Bess and Jack Leach in the XI for the first time.
Sam Curran had the first shout for LBW in the second over, opening the bowling with Stuart .road- also his first time opening the bowling away from home since the abysmal tour of the West Indies. If Root had reviewed, the fine margins and a not out call from the umpire would have kept England at bay.
The game may have been delayed so much only four overs were bowled in the opening half an hour, but that didn’t deter England, Stuart Broad, donning last summers headband got the game moving in the seventh over.
First Lahrihu Thirimanne was caught by Jonny Bairstow- who it seems has contractually agreed to field in those awkward positions in turn for a place in the team, for only two balls later Kusal Mendis to be sent walking back to the pavilion, a fine edge to keeper Buttler resulting in the batsman fourth consecutive duck in test cricket.
Dominic Bess was introduced in the 10th over, claiming the wicket of the entertaining Kusal Perera. The opener deciding that a reverse sweep was the correct option on the opening morning of the test match. Trying to pile pressure on the young spinner only resulting in pressurising the rest of his batting line up.
Angleo Mathews had a rude introduction to the crease as Mark Wood, who’s pace in his first spell would excite fans, snapped his bat in half.
Mathews and new partner Dinesh Chandimal looked to steady the ship, coming together at 25/3, knocking runs off the spinners, with Bess leaking a few runs with his inconsistent length. The pair had made a decent inroad that was accompanied with a few scares- Chandimal dropped by debutant Dan Lawrence on 22 off Leach which would have seen the home side 61/4.
Mathews brought up 6000 test match runs in the first over of the afternoon session, edging Broad to the boundary.
Stuart Broad ever the partnership breaker was at his old tricks again, with two set batsmen at the crease he takes his third wicket in the fourth over after lunch, Mathews swinging at a wider ball, edging harshly to Joe Root, stood alone in the cordon at first slip, out for 27.
Three balls later, all the hard work of the past hour or so had been undone, an almost replay of the incident before lunch, Leach floats one a bit wider and Chandimal has a go at it, driving straight to the man at cover, this time it was Sam Curran (replacing Lawrence) who took a good low catch to leave Sri Lanka in trouble at 81/5.
The sixth wicket to fall was a perfect representation of Sri Lanka’s day, Bess with his first ball of his second spell offered up a rank wide toss up for Dickwella to smash anywhere:
well anywhere besides straight to Dom Sibley, a quick catch left Bess and his team mates slightly embarrassed at the filthy steal of a wicket.
Attack was the new order as Dasun Shanaka was joint by Wanindu Hasaranga, the pair showing an aggressive tone to both Leach and Bess, the former applying his release shot of the slog sweep to varying degrees of success, ultimately ending up in his wicket in the most unfortunate circumstances, smashing Jonny Bairstow on the ankle at short leg, who was jumping to avoid the ball, with it looping up for a simple catch for Buttler. Bess’ third victim.
The wickets tumbled as Bess floated one up to Dilruwan Perera on his second ball, with the tail ender completely missing the ball, being castled to leave the score at 126/8. A double wicket maiden for Bess who’s figures stood at 4/30.
The aggressive nature of Hasaranga caused the wicket of Embuldeniya, attempting to smash Leach straight back past him, the bald spinner got a finger on the ball to defect it onto the stops, Embuldeniya ran out backing up for 0.
Bess bought up a extraordinary 5for with the wicket of Hasaranga, trying to play a reverse sweep standing up, completely missing the ball that spun onto middle stumps to humble the hosts to 135 all out. The lowest first innings total at Galle.
Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley were tasked with opening the innings at the start of the final session, aiming to turn England’s day from good to perfect. Facing the spin from Embuldeniya from the off.
England to be fair to them gave us all some assurance and familiarity in these unpresented times with the most English start possible.
A giant mix up between the openers should have seen Crawley ran out with the score at 4/0.
The first wicket of the chase fell as Sibley was caught at slip via bat pad off Embuldeniya for 4, only being given after the Sri Lankan’s reviewed with the umpire’s decision being reversed.
Both openers were back in the pavilion as Zak Crawley took on Embuldeniya charging down the wicket only to find Hasaranga running back from mid-off to take an easy catch for the tourists to be 17/2.
Joe Root was originally given out on 20, as Embuleniya once again found both bounce and spin, but on review the England captain was saved as the ball was deemed to be bouncing over the stumps.
Although boundaries were at a premium, Bairstow and Root battled to their 50 partnership off 110 balls. Only a couple of Root boundaries in the first stage of the partnership.
The sweeps and cuts for singles and twos kept the England total ticking along at a nice pace taking the score past 100 with Root achieving his half century off 94 deliveries. This his 50th fifty in his 98 test matches.
The 100 partnership between Root and Bairstow was bought up with a boundary, which as the day unfolded were starting to appear more often. The Yorkshire pair also now hold the biggest partnership for England at Galle,
England end the day 127/2 trailing by eight runs with a partnership of 110 at the crease barley looking troubled and forever improving in confidence.
At a ground that has matches decided on first innings totals, England have the perfect start to what could be a defining year.