Root dominates Sri Lanka as England tighten grip

By Sports Desk January 15, 2021

Joe Root led from the front with an unbeaten century to leave England in complete control of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

Resuming on 66, the England captain batted throughout truncated day two in masterful fashion, reaching 168 at tea before rain and bad light put paid to the final session, with the tourists on 320-4 - a first-innings lead of 185.

Debutant Dan Lawrence made a wonderfully fluent 73 as part of a 173 alongside Root, with Sri Lanka's main hopes of avoiding a heavy defeat already seemingly pinned on further unseasonably wet weather.

Events might have panned out very differently had Dilruwan Perera removed Root lbw with the first ball of the day, but an umpire's call fell in the batsman's favour and he was off and running with a straight four crunched back down the ground in the same over.

The tireless Lasith Embuldeniya claimed his third wicket of the match as Kusal Mendis held a sharp chance at gully to dismiss Jonny Bairstow three runs shy of a half-century.

Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Lawrence showed no sign of debut nerves as his attractive, smooth-wristed style transferred easily to the Test arena.

The highlight of the 23-year-old's 150-ball knock came when he launched left-arm spinner Embuldeniya for a huge, slog-swept six.

Root and Lawrence played in unhurried fashion off front and back foot, devouring a heavy diet of spin bowling until Dilruwan found extra bounce with the second new ball to have the youngster caught by Mendis at short leg.

Jos Buttler's scratchy progress against Dilruwan showed batting might not be quite as easy on a turning surface as Root and Lawrence suggested, meaning England are ominously placed despite the lost time.

Root begins pivotal year in emphatic fashion

A packed 2021 schedule is likely to define Root's reign as England's Test captain, with home and away series against India preceding a trip to Australia and a third crack at Ashes glory in his tenure.

He probably took a light lunch, having ended the first session on 99 in pursuit of a first ton in the longest format since November 2019.

In truth, the immaculate balance and judgement Root displayed throughout made an 18th Test century feel like a formality and, after nudging a single off Dilruwan from the second ball of the session, he went on to surpass Kevin Pietersen's 151 in Colombo in 2012 to make England's highest individual score in Sri Lanka.

Lawrence gives England a handy problem

Root and head coach Chris Silverwood will need to call on squad depth as they negotiate the challenges of the year to come and Lawrence's stylish introduction to the middle order was most welcome.

A remodelled Test side designed to bat time at the top of the order with the likes of Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Rory Burns now has another option in the engine room to make the purists purr. Ollie Pope knows he must hit the ground running on his expected return from shoulder surgery in India.

Embuldeniya gamely holds the fort in Galle

Sri Lanka's spinners have matched their batsmen for ineptitude at times, with Dilruwan struggling for length before finding some rhythm prior to tea and leg-spinner Hasaranga De Silva (0-63) going at more than four an over.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal has turned time and again to Embuldeniya, who has wheeled through 38 overs for his 3-131. If a five-wicket haul arrives it will be the result of relentless toil.

Related items

  • Euro 2024 social round-up: Ronaldo's rally cry as Portuguese laud it up in Leipzig and France offer Mbappe update Euro 2024 social round-up: Ronaldo's rally cry as Portuguese laud it up in Leipzig and France offer Mbappe update

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal claimed a late win over Czechia to get their Euro 2024 campaign up and running.

    Before that, there was a sensational Group F opener between Turkiye and Georgia.

    But the football was not the only thing to look out for.

    Here, we round up the best of Tuesday's social posts from around Euro 2024.

     

    Ronaldo's rallying cry

    Ahead of becoming the first player to feature at six European Championships, Ronaldo posted a motivational message on social media.

    "Portuguese, today begins another chapter in our history," Ronaldo wrote in a caption that came with a video of some of his best moments in a Portugal shirt.

    "I fondly remember my first day with the national team, a journey full of challenges and victories. Now, I have the honor of being alongside a team of champions, full of talent and determination. With everyone’s strength and support, we turn dreams into reality. Let's, together, fight for another triumph. United, we are unstoppable. Go Portugal!"

    The rallying cry just about worked - Ronaldo didn't score, but Portugal beat Czechia 2-1 thanks to Francisco Conceicao's last-gasp winner.

    Portuguese party in Leipzig

    There were plenty of travelling Portuguese fans who made themselves right at home in Leipzig.

    It looked like a fair old party pre kick-off!

    Nose job

    Mbappe will require surgery, France coach Didier Deschamps confirmed, to fix his broken nose.

    However, when the superstar forward will go under the knife remains to be seen.

    Deschamps revealed this in a video interview posted to the official France team X account. Could Mbappe's Euro 2024 be over, or will he make it back in time to feature?

    Kante's warm welcome

    It was not all doom and gloom for France.

    N'Golo Kante was spectacular in his first competitive game for Les Bleus in two years, and the 33-year-old midfielder received a rapturous reception when he returned to the dressing room after the match, with the moment captured on video.

    Baller

    Turkiye and Georgia served up a thrilling encounter, and Arda Guler was one of the stars of the show.

    The Real Madrid midfielder became the youngest player to score on his Euros debut, breaking a record set by Ronaldo way back in 2004.

    He did so in stunning fashion, curling home from outside the area, and it's worth watching again and again.

    Quaresma watches on

    Ex-Portugal star Quaresma was no stranger to scoring great goals on the big stage, and he watched on from the stands to support his nation.

    Cool as you like

    Looking dapper is part and parcel of a team's travelling routine to and from match locations, especially for major tournaments.

    And the German team made sure to dress with the style befitting of hosts as they left their training base and headed for Stuttgart, where they take on Hungary on Wednesday.

    Derek's Cologne tour

    The Tartan Army have taken over Cologne ahead of Scotland's clash with Switzerland on Wednesday.

    And with the help of commentator Derek Rae, Scotland's social media team put out a handy guide to the city.

    Rice grabs the lens

    France's Benjamin Pavard took over camera duties for an ad hoc Olivier Giroud photo shoot earlier in the competition, and now England's Declan Rice has got in on the act.

    After training on Tuesday, Rice grabbed hold of the camera to get some snaps of his team-mates. And the results were pretty good!

  • The Numbers Game: England out to book last-16 spot at Euro 2024 The Numbers Game: England out to book last-16 spot at Euro 2024

    England know that the last 16 of Euro 2024 is within touching distance as they head into a reunion with Denmark.

    The Three Lions beat the Danes in the semi-finals at Euro 2020, coming from behind to win 2-1 after extra time.

    Harry Kane was England's hero as he converted a penalty winner, though spot-kicks would of course go on to prove to be their downfall in the final against Italy.

    There is less on the line when England face Denmark again on Thursday, though Gareth Southgate's team will progress to the knockout stage should they win.

    Here, we use Opta data to preview the Group C clash.

    What's expected?

    England are forecasted to win this one, with the Opta supercomputer handing them a 54.5 per cent chance of getting the job done in Frankfurt.

    Denmark are sure to be no pushovers, though, and have a 20.6 per cent win likelihood, with the draw threat at 25 per cent.

    This will be the fourth encounter between Denmark and England at a major tournament. Three of those will have come at the Euros, and one at the 2002 World Cup.

     

    Denmark won none of the previous three meetings (D1 L2), scoring only one goal in the process, Mikkel Damsgaard's free-kick in the semi-final of Euro 2020.

    There have only been five goals scored in the last four meetings between Denmark (two) and England (three) in all competitions.

    Meanwhile, the Three Lions only had 12 touches in Serbia's box in their 1-0 win on MD1, their lowest total of touches in the opposition box in a European Championship game since 2012 against Ukraine (also 12).

    Indeed, the England v Serbia match saw only 11 shots (five for England, six for Serbia) – that tally is the lowest on record in a European Championship match, fewer than every one of the other 322 matches in the competition since 1980.

    England have also kept a clean sheet in each of their last five group-stage matches at the European Championship finals, the longest such run in the competition's history.

    So, this game is probably not one to expect too many goals in.

    Bellingham a safe bet but can Foden and Kane flourish?

    Jude Bellingham came into Euro 2024 with the pressure and hype ramped right up. He is the face of this England squad, and there is an onus on him to deliver.

    Well, he started on the right foot, scoring in the 13th minute on Sunday to seal that 1-0 victory over Serbia.

    Bellingham displayed the kind of chance-sniffing instinct he has demonstrated so brilliantly during his first season at Real Madrid, getting on the end of Bukayo Saka's deflected cross and powering home with his head.

    Having become the first player to play at two European Championship tournaments before the age of 21, he is also the second England player to score at two major tournaments before turning 21 (also scored vs Iran at the 2022 World Cup), along with Michael Owen, who scored at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

    Bellingham was crucial in every aspect against Serbia. He led England for touches (93), while only Declan Rice (81) and Kyle Walker (77) attempted more passes than the 20-year-old, who also competed in a team-leading 16 duels, winning 10 of them, and was successful with two of his three tackles.

    Southgate's system seems designed to allow Bellingham to flourish, though has that come at the expense of Phil Foden?

    The Manchester City star struggled when he did find space against Serbia, though there is perhaps a case that the Premier League Player of the Year is being shoehorned in out of position, too.

    Kane, meanwhile, had just two touches in the opening 45 minutes, before finishing with 24 – exactly half that of Jordan Pickford and the lowest of any England outfielder who started the match. The Bayern Munich striker did have a header tipped onto the crossbar, but that was his only chance of the game. Southgate needs to get him more service.

     

    England average 1.9 goals per game under Southgate at major tournaments, the best ratio of any Three Lions boss, but there could be so much more to come from this star-studded attack.

    Christian the Great (Dane)

    Christian Eriksen scored his maiden goal at the European Championship in Denmark's 1-1 draw with Slovenia.

    At 32 years and 123 days old, he became the oldest Dane to score at the Euros and oldest at a major tournament since 33-year-old Jon Dahl Tomasson at the 2010 World Cup.

    It was a clever run and deft finish from the Manchester United playmaker, who created seven chances from set-pieces in the match, the most by a player in a European Championship fixture since Gary McAllister in 1992 for Scotland against Germany (eight).

     

    Getting Eriksen into dangerous positions has to be the gameplan for Kasper Hjulmand's team, who completed 583 passes and enjoyed an 89 per cent passing accuracy against Slovenia, both record highs for the Danes that Opta has on record (since 1980) at the European Championship.

    Despite their run to the last four three years ago, Denmark have won just one of their last six group stage games at the Euros (D1 L4), beating Russia 4-1 at Euro 2020 to ensure qualification to the round of 16.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Denmark - Rasmus Hojlund 

    Eriksen will be the one England have to stop influencing the match in midfield, but John Stones and Marc Guehi – should they start – will have to be on high alert to keep Man United's Hojlund under wraps, too.

    He only had one shot against Slovenia, which he did get on target, but he is a quality finisher and can certainly do some damage.

    England - Phil Foden

    Foden created just one chance in a subdued performance against Serbia, but there can be no doubting his quality.

    Get him more involved, and in fairness, Foden has to sharpen up when he does get on the ball, and England will surely have far too much for Denmark's defence.

     

  • Mainoo pleased to have 'peace of mind' over ten Hag decision Mainoo pleased to have 'peace of mind' over ten Hag decision

    Kobbie Mainoo is pleased to have “peace of mind” over the future of Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

    The Dutchman looked set to be sacked following a disappointing season, only to lead United to FA Cup success against Manchester City last month.

    Mainoo, who is away with England at Euro 2024, scored the decisive goal in the 2-1 win at Wembley to cap off an impressive debut year for the 19-year-old. 

    Following United's 13th FA Cup success, a post-season review ultimately led to Ten Hag being told he would remain in charge at Old Trafford under the new ownership. 

    Mainoo is preparing for the Three Lions' second group game against Denmark on Thursday, having made his international tournament debut against Serbia as a late substitute. 

    When asked for his verdict on United’s decision to keep ten Hag, Mainoo was thankful for his head coach after his maiden season with the first team. 

    'I am so GRATEFUL for Erik ten Hag, I can't thank him enough!' Kobbie Mainoo#manutd #mufc #eriktenhag

    Full press conference on the BeanymanSports YouTube channel https://t.co/XK0O6uf59H pic.twitter.com/QIZ5eq5xbI

    — BeanymanSports (@BeanymanSports) June 18, 2024

    "Obviously, (I am) happy to be building with him," Mainoo said. "He’s already got two trophies, hopefully there’s more to come. 

    "It’s nice to have that peace of mind that we know what manager we’re going back to in the new season.

    "I’m so grateful for him that he put so much trust in me and belief in me to play in the team. Yeah, I can’t thank him enough."

    Mainoo made 32 appearances across all competitions, scoring five goals, ultimately resulting in his inclusion in the 26-man squad that travelled to Germany, picked ahead of the likes of James Maddison, Jordan Henderson, and Jack Grealish. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.