Joe Root's marathon 186 helped England reduce the deficit after Lasith Embuldeniya picked up a seven-wicket haul on day three of the second Test in Galle.
Root, who had scored a fabulous double ton in the first Test, looked good to repeat the feat in this one as well but fell victim to a Oshada Fernando throw that caught him short. However with England trailing by just 42 runs and with one wicket in hand, the visitors will not be too unhappy with their effort.
The England captain has now gone past David Gower to become his country's fourth-highest run-getter in Tests.
Embuldeniya was the star for Sri Lanka as he accounted for seven of the nine English wickets, making sure that Root ran out of partners even as the batsman continued chipping at the lead. The spinner was supported by other bowlers, who kept England's scoring rate under three.
Joe Root has now gone past Kevin Pietersen to become England’s fifth-highest run-getter in Tests 🙌— ICC (@ICC) January 24, 2021
Can you name the top four? 👀 pic.twitter.com/Df9XkBn2Un
For the most part of the last session Root and Dom Bess looked in control and saw off half the session with little trouble. But, Sri Lanka revived themselves in the final over of the day, strangling the scoring rate even further. Embuldeniya picked his sixth wicket when he dismissed Bess for a 95-ball 32 and then immediately removed Mark Wood in the next over for one.
With the deficit under 50, England still could have finished on a high but an error in judgment from Root rounded off a more satisfying day for the hosts.
Earlier, the visitors stuttered at the start of the third day when they lost Jonny Bairstow for 28. He had added just four runs to his overnight score. Embuldeniya continued to trouble the England batsmen and was responsible for Bairstow's downfall, enticing him to edge it into the slips. The appeal was turned down by the umpire but Sri Lanka reviewed successfully to overturn the decision.
Embuldeniya then turned his attention to newcomer Dan Lawrence, who struggled with the spinner's sharp turns. Lawrence, who had got a superb 73 in the first Test, failed to last much longer and ended up giving a catch to Lahiru Thirimanne at first slip.
Despite losing two partners in quick succession, Root carried on in the same aggressive fashion as before and continued to plunder runs off bad deliveries. With a single off Dilruwan Perera, he brought up his 19th Test hundred. It was also his fourth against Sri Lanka – the most by an England batsman.
Buttler, who joined then Root at the crease supported his captain to take England to 181/4 at lunch.
Root continued to bisect gaps and accumulate runs in the second session. He shared a 97-run stand with Buttler, which was broken when the latter got out soon after his 18th Test fifty. Buttler became debutant Ramesh Mendis' maiden Test victim. The batsman went for an unnecessary reverse sweep only to play onto his boot as the ball lobbed up, offering a simple catch to short leg.
The next man in Sam Curran (13), didn't last for long either becoming Embuldeniya's fifth victim of the match at tea.
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