An unbeaten 146 from opener Keaton Jennings propelled England to set Sri Lanka a colossal target of 462 at the Galle International Stadium on the third day of the first Test on Thursday, 8 November.
Sri Lanka openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva remained unbeaten at the end of the day's play with the hosts on 15/0 after seven overs.
This was Jennings' second three-figure score in Test cricket after his century on debut against India back in 2016. The left-hander applied himself flawlessly on a sluggish pitch, employing the reverse sweep to his advantage throughout the innings.
Sri Lanka had one chance to dismiss the 26-year-old – at the end of the morning session – when an lbw appeal from Dhananjaya de Silva was turned down by the on-field umpire. The hosts decided against reviewing the decision, but hawk-eye showed that the ball would have gone on to hit middle stump.
The visitors started the day on 38/0, with a 177-run lead under their belt. Sri Lanka showed promise in the morning session, though, claiming three wickets to restrict the flow of runs.
England looked steady as the opening pair added 60 runs between them. However, Rory Burns had to return to the pavilion for a 65-ball 23 after 23 overs – he was found short of his crease when Karunaratne's direct hit disrupted the woodwork at the non-striker's end.
The hosts made two quick breakthroughs to dismiss both Moeen Ali and Joe Root for three runs each within the next nine overs. England went to lunch with Jennings and Stokes at the crease after a fruitful morning session for Sri Lanka.
Hundred for Keaton Jennings!— ICC (@ICC) November 8, 2018
It's his second in Test cricket and it's put England into a hugely dominant position in Galle.
They are 224/4 and lead by 363 runs. #SLvENG 1st Test live ⬇️https://t.co/aBGojY53Jw pic.twitter.com/0QzfJoitwP
England recovered swiftly in the second session, though, denying the hosts a chance to further dent their batting order. Just 57 runs were added by England in the first 60 minutes of the second session, but without any further loss of wickets.
The duo dug deep, notching up the first 100-run partnership of the match for the fourth wicket. While Jennings continued to anchor the innings, Stokes was the aggressor of the partnership with his 93-ball 62.
The left-hander smashed four fours and three sixes in his counter-attacking knock before falling to Dilruwan Perera in the 61st over. The off-spinner pitched the ball on the leg stump, extracting a sharp turn that bamboozled Stokes to hit the off stump – the only wicket in the second session.
England declare on 322/6, Jennings finishes on 146* and they leave Sri Lanka needing 462 runs to win.— ICC (@ICC) November 8, 2018
Rangana Herath ends his last spell in Test cricket on 433 wickets. No left-armer has taken more wickets than him.#SLvENG 1st Test live ⬇️https://t.co/aBGojY53Jw pic.twitter.com/D6ck3kp6sy
Jos Buttler, who walked in at No.5, continued right where Stokes left off in the afternoon. The right-hander shared a 77-run stand with Jennings, playing confidently for his 58-ball 35. He became Rangana Herath's 433rd Test scalp, falling after a sensational grab by Kaushal Silva at silly point.
Ben Foakes, who scored a century in the first innings to become the second English wicketkeeper-batsman to notch a ton on debut, replaced Buttler in the middle. He accumulated 61 runs with Jennings to further England's lead to a gargantuan 458. He added a quickfire 37 runs off just 34 deliveries before becoming Akila Dananjaya's first scalp of the innings.
Just as Sam Curran faced his first delivery to close off the 93rd over, Root signalled for his men to return, declaring the innings at 322/6. England accumulated 661 runs over the two innings – their highest tally in Sri Lanka.
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