England may not have had their usual level of support on hand to witness their Test victory in Galle, but Joe Root still took the time to thank one touring fan for his dedication to the cause. 

Rob Lewis had travelled to Sri Lanka in March 2020 to watch Root's side in action, only for that series to be cancelled at short notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, rather than return home, Lewis opted to stay put, a decision he made in the hope the abandoned series would be completed at a later date. 

"I thought, 'Oh, this coronavirus will be a month. I'll stay in for that month and then see what happens'. But it rumbled on... there's never been a point where I thought I should go home," he explained in an interview with The Times.

So, while the Barmy Army were unable to attend in their typically high numbers due to travel restrictions amid the continued global health crisis, there was still one visiting spectator there to witness England's seven-wicket triumph in the first of two Tests on the rearranged trip. 

Root had acknowledged Lewis – watching the action unfold from the famous Galle Fort that overlooks the cricket ground – when reaching his double century on day three, and he went one step further after the game had come to a conclusion.

Having completed his media duties, the England skipper put in a phone call to thank Lewis personally, as shown by the team's official Twitter account. 

"We really appreciate your support. It's an incredible story and journey that you've been on over the last year or so," Root said during the conversation. 

"So, more than anything, I just wanted to say a massive thank you. We really appreciate you being here and making the effort to come down and support us. 

"It's a real pleasure for us to be able to enjoy this with you, so thank you very much."

England have now won four successive overseas Tests for the first time since 1957, while Root has posted 24 victories during his captaincy reign, leaving only two behind Michael Vaughan's all-time team record. 

Lewis is seemingly set to stick around a little longer for the second match in the series, with the second Test starting on Friday at the same venue. 

Joe Root praised the character shown by his bowling attack – particularly spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach – but hopes England can still get better after securing victory over Sri Lanka in Galle.

England had suffered an early wobble when chasing just 74 in the fourth innings of the first Test, slipping to 14-3 at one stage. 

However, resuming the fifth day needing a further 36, they reached their nominal target without any further losses, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence guiding them home with an unbroken stand of 62. 

Bess and Leach had laid the foundations with five-wicket hauls in the contest, as England clinched a fourth successive Test triumph overseas – their best run in the format since 1957.

"To come here with the little preparation we've had, and play in the manner that we have throughout this game, has been really impressive," Root said at the presentation ceremony. 

"I thought it was a great effort yesterday (on day four). Not a lot fell for us but we worked extremely hard.

"For the two spinners to come out of the game with five-fors is a brilliant effort, especially with such little cricket that they have played coming into a series like this when the pressure is on. 

"It's always tough, but without preparation it is a testament to their characters. The whole bowling group in general, to perform like we did after lunch (on day four) in particular, was a really good effort. 

"It's a good start to the tour, but we know that we've got to keep getting better – and we will keep looking to do that. But I'm really pleased with the start that we've had." 

Root was unsurprisingly named man of the match following his double century in England's first innings, having failed to reach three figures in Test action in 2020. 

"The exciting thing, I think, is that there's still more to come from the group," he added. "The most important thing is we have that attitude during this winter tour and going into the next Test match." 

Stand-in Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal, deputising in the absence of the injured Dimuth Karunaratne, admitted the hosts simply left themselves with too much to do after they were bowled out for just 135 after winning the toss on day one. 

Lahiru Thirimanne made a hundred in Sri Lanka's second innings and while Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews also weighed in with half-centuries, their spinners did not have enough runs to work with on a dry, turning pitch. 

"I think it was a crucial toss to win, but the first innings cost us the game," Chandimal said. "You have to get a big total in the first innings, so that cost us on this kind of track.  

"Credit to Thirimanne, Angelo, Kusal, everyone did their bit as a batting unit in the second innings. Another 70-80 runs it could have been a different story." 

Sri Lanka will have the chance to draw level in the second and final Test of the series, which begins on Friday at the same venue.

England wrapped up a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle on Monday.

Jonny Bairstow (35 not out) and Dan Lawrence (unbeaten 21) saw the tourists past their target of 74 early on day five after a brief top-order scare on Sunday.

The victory saw England extend their unbeaten streak against Sri Lanka in Tests to seven matches (W6 D1).

It was a win set up by Dom Bess' five-for in the first innings and Joe Root's 228, while Jack Leach took 5-122 in the second innings.

Lawrence survived a couple of lbw shouts on the final day, including a review, but his unbroken 62-run fourth-wicket stand with Bairstow saw England to victory.

The second and final Test begins on Friday.

England lost early wickets in their run chase but remain on course for victory in the first Test against Sri Lanka, finishing day four on 38-3 in pursuit of a target of 74. 

Having battled hard to make 359 all out in their second innings, Sri Lanka gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Lasith Embuldeniya quickly removed England openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley. 

The run out of captain Joe Root, who was called through for a single that was never on before falling over as he dived to unsuccessfully make his ground, left the tourists teetering at 20-3. 

However, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence steadied the nerves, seeing England through to stumps without any further setbacks. The duo will resume on day five needing a further 36 to seal the series opener. 

Sri Lanka will be left cursing their first-innings shortcomings with the bat, particularly after a second Test hundred from Lahiru Thirimanne underpinned a far-improved display second time around. 

England did remove nightwatchman Embuldeniya early but were made to work hard for wickets after that, Jack Leach the pick of the attack as he finished with figures of 5-122. 

Sam Curran eventually ended Thirimanne's defiance when the opener had 111 to his name, while the hosts were still in deficit when stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal edged Dom Bess (3-100) to Root at first slip.  

The same bowler accounted for Niroshan Dickwella, who made 29, but Angelo Mathews proved to be a familiar thorn in England's side. 

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler secured his first stumping in Test cricket as some smart glovework ended a lively cameo from Dilruwan Perera (24), while Mathews was the last man out midway through the final session.  

The former Sri Lanka skipper had battled for nearly six hours before Leach tempted him into a leaden-footed drive, ending his resistance on 71. England appeared frenetic at the start of their chase on a dry, turning surface, but will still be confident of completing the job on Monday.


TON-DERFUL MOMENT FOR THIRIMANNE

Thirimanne's previous Test century also came at the same venue; he made 155 not out against Bangladesh back in March 2013. The left-handed opener may not have featured in this match had captain Dimuth Karunaratne not been ruled out with a fractured thumb, but he seized his opportunity.

In total, he faced 251 deliveries and hit 12 boundaries, helping at least restore some pride for Sri Lanka after they had been dismissed for 135 on a dismal opening day.

LEACH STICKS TO HIS TASK

Leach had not played in a Test since November 2019, since when an illness and the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted him to just two first-class appearances. The left-arm spinner could be forgiven for a little rustiness, then.

However, he stuck manfully to his task during the innings, sending down 41.5 overs to claim his second five-wicket haul in Tests. His other also came against Sri Lanka, at Pallekele back in November 2018.
 

Joe Root revealed how an in-depth review of his own technique - plus the chance to watch some of his peers in action - helped him start a busy 2021 in fine style. 

England's Test captain had failed to reach three figures in the format during the previous year, yet he put that lean spell behind him to deliver a double hundred in the series opener against Sri Lanka. 

The Yorkshireman made 228 - the second highest Test score recorded by an England player in Asia - to help his team seize control of the first Test in Galle, though the home side hit back when left to deal with a first-innings deficit of 286. 

While half-centuries from Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne, who ended day three on 76 not out, held up the tourists' push for victory, Sri Lanka still have plenty to do with the bat. 

For Root, though, the hard work has already paid off, as he explained the key was finding the right rhythm again at the crease. 

"I've changed quite a few things, to be honest," Root told the host broadcasters in Sri Lanka at the conclusion of play on day three.  

"I've tried to get a bit more rhythm back into my batting, just trying to find triggers and things I can do when the bowler is running in, or at the end of his mark, which might just give me a sort of rhythm to things.  

"It looks a bit different to previously, but it feels really good."

Root has now managed four Test double centuries - only Wally Hammond and Alastair Cook have managed more for England - while his 321-ball knock in Galle saw him pass a notable personal milestone. 

The 30-year-old became the seventh England batsman to reach 8,000 Test runs; he could rise several spots on the all-time list during the coming months too, as a hectic schedule provides plenty of opportunities to add to his career tally. 

After completing their two-Test trip to Sri Lanka, England have home and away series against India to come, while the end of 2021 sees an Ashes tour to Australia. 

The hectic schedule comes after 2020 was disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, though Root made use of his time by analysing not just his own game but also the methods used by other players, including New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, now ranked as the best Test batsman in the world. 

"There was so much time to look back at things and watch other cricket from around the world, some of the best players," Root said about the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. 

"Kane at the minute is playing unbelievably well, so [I was] watching him and how he goes about things. You've got to learn off your peers - I think it's important to do that - and try and advance your game as much as possible.  

"We've got some fantastic coaches as well. [I'm] Trying to tap into the likes of Jacques Kallis, Paul Collingwood and Graham Thorpe on a regular basis. 

"I'm very fortunate to have those guys to learn from and work with."

Joe Root posted his highest score as captain of England before Sri Lanka mustered some overdue resistance to frustrate the tourists on day three of the first Test in Galle.

Skipper Root progressed from his overnight 168 not out to make 228 in England's 421 all out, which gave them a 286-run first innings lead after Sri Lanka's pitiful 135 total.

Only once before has Root bettered that score for England, when he made 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford five years ago.

On that occasion, England swept to a 330-run victory, and they may yet win this clash with Sri Lanka by a comfortable margin, but they found the going difficult for large parts of Saturday.

The hosts reached stumps on 156-2 to trim their deficit to 130 runs and, while England need not panic, they will hope to find more penetration with their bowling on Sunday.

England rattled on from 320-4 at the start of play until their final six wickets fell for 49 runs.

Asitha Fernando triggered that slump with the new ball when he had Jos Buttler caught behind for 30 and bowled Sam Curran next delivery.

Moments after Root brought up his fourth Test double century with a boundary through midwicket, he and Dom Bess got in a muddle that saw the junior partner run out without scoring.

Veteran off-spinner Dilruwan Perera (4-109) prised out Jack Leach and Mark Wood, before Stuart Broad, batting at 11, found the ropes from successive balls.

Root understandably looked to hit out but a heave at Perera meant a Test best would prove beyond him, the captain caught just inside the deep midwicket boundary.

Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne continued the Sri Lanka fightback as they put on 101 for the first wicket, before the former fell for 62, slashing at a wide delivery from Curran and finding Leach at third man.

Sri Lanka kept plugging away, Kusal Mendis avoiding what would have been a fifth successive duck before he fell for 15 in the closing moments of the day, Leach finding some turn and drawing a faint edge through to Buttler.

Dan Lawrence gave Joe Root a first-hand look at his talents on debut in Sri Lanka and the England Test captain came away impressed.

Root brought up his 18th century in the longest format and reached 168 not out before rain and bad light spared Sri Lanka the punishment of an evening session on day two.

The other stand-out turn in England amassing 320-4 - a first-innings lead of 185 after the hosts were skittled on day one - was Lawrence, who plundered a stylish 73 to announce himself at the highest level.

A mighty slog-swept six off left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya came with ample panache and was the shot of the day.

He helped add 173 alongside Root for the fourth wicket and the captain looked on approvingly.

"I'm very impressed, I thought he played magnificently well," he said.

"He showed exactly why he deserves his opportunity to play, and hopefully it is the start of something very special for him."

Root surpassed Kevin Pietersen's 151 in Colombo nine years ago to register England's highest score in Sri Lanka.

Despite this being his first Test century since November 2019, the Yorkshireman showed he had not lost his knack for going big - this his eighth score in excess of 150.

"Generally when I make a 100, I make it really count," he said.

"I have got quite a good record past 100, so tomorrow I will be trying to make that another really big one and drive the game forward from there.

"I felt that I got in a really good mindset throughout this game so far and I will try and take that into the rest of this winter tour and beyond.

"The previous couple of hundreds that I have got - even though they were a while ago - have come at the end of series.

"So to get one at the start of a very long winter is quite exciting, and hopefully I can take that forward into the rest of the game."

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.

Dom Bess claimed a five-wicket haul as England seized immediate control of the first Test against Sri Lanka, skittling their hosts for 135 before reaching 127-2 in reply.

Captain Joe Root and the recalled Jonny Bairstow combined to put on an unbroken third-wicket partnership worth 110 in the final session, the duo finishing unbeaten on 66 and 47 respectively as the tourists dominated the opening day of the series.

As for Sri Lanka, their problems started prior to the game getting underway as skipper Dimuth Karunaratne was ruled out due to a fractured thumb. 

Stuart Broad (3-20) claimed two early wickets as Sri Lanka were reduced to 25-3; they never recovered and were bowled out for the lowest first-innings score in a Test staged at Galle International Stadium.

Angelo Mathews - back in the Sri Lanka XI - combined with stand-in skipper Dinesh Chandimal to put on 56 for the fourth wicket, but that was the only partnership of real note in an innings that spanned a mere 46.1 overs. 

Chandimal top-scored with 28 before he was superbly caught in the covers by Sam Curran off Jack Leach (1-55), leaving the score at 81-5 early in the afternoon session. 

Niroshan Dickwella (12) chopped a long hop from Bess to backward point, while the off-spinner also benefited from a lucky deflection off short leg Bairstow - who took the full brunt of a sweep shot - that allowed wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to catch Dasun Shanaka (23). 

Dilruwan Perera fell quickly for a duck and, after a Leach finger tip saw Lasith Embuldeniya run out at the non-striker's end, Bess bowled PWH de Silva to complete his second five-wicket haul in Tests. 

England's reply stuttered early as opening pair Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley fell cheaply, both dismissed by left-arm spinner Embuldeniya to leave the score at 17-2. 

However, Bairstow – who hit a century when batting at number three in England's previous Test on Sri Lankan soil, back in 2018 – capitalised on his opportunity back in a team minus top-order regulars Rory Burns and Ben Stokes.

Root had needed a review to overturn an lbw decision against him on 20, but otherwise made serene progress to a half-century that means his team trail by just eight runs heading into Friday's action.

Dimuth Karunaratne believes Sri Lanka have a "clear advantage" over England in the two-match Test series due to the tourists' inexperience of playing in the conditions they will face.

Joe Root's side completed a whitewash in Sri Lanka the last time they met in the longest format in November 2018.

England start the series in the Galle bio-secure bubble on Thursday with the aim of securing a third consecutive Test series triumph over Sri Lanka for the first time.

They will have a very different side to the one selected at the same venue just over two years ago, with Rory Burns, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and Keaton Jennings not featuring.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes is expected to be overlooked despite being named man of the series in that 3-0 success in Sri Lanka, while batsman Dan Lawrence is poised to make his debut.

Sri Lanka have won only one of their past seven Tests and were beaten 2-0 by South Africa recently, but captain Karunaratne believes they can respond against England.

"We have a clear advantage against this team, because they've got a few new players," the batsman said.

"From the last series they played against us, Stokes is not in their squad and Jennings is not in the team. And Stokes is the guy who balanced their team. The players in the current squad don't have much experience in these conditions."

Karunaratne, however, knows Sri Lanka - who are able to call upon Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Suranga Lakmal - will be in for a battle. 

 "That said, we shouldn't take it easy. They've prepared well, and I've seen how well they've prepared. They've also been playing cricket and they were the first ones to start playing Tests again after COVID hit.

"Their fitness levels are still up there. We only started again against South Africa, and because of the injury concerns, we've lost players."

Sri Lanka and England both have plenty to ponder over team selection as they prepare to finally face each other in Test action again. 

The nations were due to meet in March 2020, only for their two-match series to be postponed amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic. England were playing a tour game in Colombo at the time when the decision was taken to cut short the trip and head home. 

They have returned 10 months later for a rearranged tour, with the ongoing COVID-19 situation seeing them hosted in a bio-secure bubble for both games in Galle. 

However, Moeen Ali will miss the first Test – and possibly the next one that follows – after a positive test result upon arrival. Chris Woakes had to self-isolate having been considered a close contact, so missed out on England's only warm-up game. 

Moeen was joint-leading wicket-taker with fellow spinner Jack Leach - taking 18 wickets apiece - when England swept the hosts 3-0 on spin-friendly pitches when visiting Sri Lanka in late 2018, though captain Joe Root is aware the surfaces may not be the same now.

"We are very aware that the conditions might be very different to the last time we played here," Root told the media.

"We are not going to have too many preconceived ideas about what we are going to come up against. It's quite dangerous and lazy to walk into a series like that." 

The tourists are without Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes – who are both rested with a long tour to India to follow immediately afterwards – while opening batsman Rory Burns has remained in England for the birth of his first child. 

As for the hosts, a recent 2-0 Test series defeat in South Africa came at a cost in terms of injuries. Dhananjaya de Silva and Kasun Rajitha are both sidelined, plus Oshada Fernando has had no match practice after a spell out of action. 

However, there is good news over the fitness of batsman Dinesh Chandimal – who missed the second Test against the Proteas – and seamer Suranga Lakmal, plus former captain Angelo Mathews is back as Sri Lanka aim for a first Test win over their opponents since a famous triumph at Headingley in 2014. 


JONNY BE GOOD AGAIN?

With holes to fill in the batting order due to key absences, England are set to hand a debut to Dan Lawrence and recall Jonny Bairstow, who appears to be the choice to bat at number three with Zak Crawley moving up to open.

Bairstow made a century at that position in the previous Test against Sri Lanka, the third time in four first-innings knocks he has reached three figures against them. However, he has not played in the format since 2019, having lost his place after averaging 18.6 in 19 innings during that year.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes played a starring role for England in Sri Lanka last time, averaging 69.25 with the bat, but looks set to miss out on the final XI.

LEADING FROM THE FRONT

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne's century in the second Test against South Africa was one of few positives for Sri Lanka in a 10-wicket defeat in Johannesburg to start the new year.

The opening batsman has averaged 66 on home soil in Tests since 2018 (14 innings), though none of his 10 career hundreds have come against England. 

Having Mathews back should ease some of the run-scoring burden, too. The 33-year-old may not contribute much with the ball these days but does average 45.31 with the bat in Tests. He will go into the opening game needing just 19 more runs to reach 6,000 in the format.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have won their previous two bilateral Test series against Sri Lanka; they are attempting to record three successive victories against them for the first time.
- Sri Lanka come into the series having only mustered one win in their past seven Test matches (D2 L4); they have just suffered a 2-0 series defeat against the Proteas, losing the opener by an innings margin before slumping to a 10-wicket loss in the second match of the series in South Africa.
- The hosts have only lost once in five Test matches against England at Galle International Stadium (W2 D2). However, the most recent meeting between the sides at the venue was won by the tourists.
- Sri Lanka have managed to get the umpire's decision overturned in 23 per cent of their referrals in Tests since the start of 2019. Only Australia (22 per cent) have a lower rate; England's record stands at 31 per cent across that period.
- Despite making his Test debut in Sri Lanka over 13 years ago, Stuart Broad has only played three Test matches in the country. He has picked up three wickets there (averaging 83), but is six scalps away from going above Courtney Walsh (519) and into sixth in the list of all-time leading Test wicket-takers.

England all-rounder Chris Woakes was keen not to be drawn on Steve Smith's latest controversy - stating only the former Australia captain's actions against India were those of habit or gamesmanship.

Stump cameras showed Smith apparently scuffing up Rishabh Pant's guard in between deliveries as the India wicketkeeper struck a brilliant counter-attacking 97 in Sydney, helping the visitors to a draw in the third Test.

Smith was forced to stand down as Australia skipper and served a ban for his part in the 2018 ball tampering scandal.

His successor Tim Paine also found himself at the centre of controversy after a foul-mouthed exchange with Ravichandran Ashwin, which compounded a dreadful display behind the stumps.

Speaking ahead of England's Test series in Sri Lanka, Woakes looked to remain above the fray when it came to Smith - perhaps mindful of having just entered an Ashes year.

"I'm sure people have got their opinions on it. It's not the first time that I've seen something like that happen," he said.

"The fact it's such a big series, a big player in a big moment probably means it's been blown up a little bit.

"There's only one person who knows whether he was doing it to affect the opposition batsman or not and that's Steve himself.

"You can look at it a few different ways. You can say he was shadow batting, doing what he'd normally do and it's a bit of a habit. Or you could say that he was trying to distract Rishabh. It's one of those things."

Asked whether Australia had been shown to be "up to old tricks again", a smiling Woakes replied: "It's hard for me to say, watching from a million miles away, that he was doing it to get into the Indian batsmen's minds.

"Potentially, but as I said, there's only one person who knows exactly what he was trying to do.

"I know Tim Paine came out and backed him as you'd expect him to do. That's all I can say on the matter."

Woakes was forced to quarantine for the first week of England's tour after travelling to the airport with team-mate Moeen Ali, who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

Despite establishing himself as an increasingly pivotal member of Joe Root's side, the 31-year-old acknowledges Thursday's first Test might come too soon for him.

"I'm certainly up against it in terms of time," Woakes said, having revealed his fitness regime over the past week amounted to workouts with fit bands and a medicine ball on his hotel balcony.

"I only had my first bowl yesterday. The other guys have been bowling for nearly a week. The chances of me playing are probably quite slim."

Nevertheless, some unexpected rainfall in Galle might persuade Root to call upon Woakes' mastery of seam and swing on a surface still expected to take plenty of turn.

"The pitch, as you'd expect, does look quite dry. But it has rained quite a bit here in the last few days and the pitch earlier this morning was a bit tacky and spikes went into the surface," he added.

"Whether that plays a part, I don't know."

England's Test squad has been cleared to begin training ahead of next week's series opener with Sri Lanka after being retested for coronavirus.

Joe Root's travelling party had been isolating in their hotel rooms after all-rounder Moeen Ali returned a positive result from PCR tests taken upon arrival at the airport in Hambantota on Sunday.

Moeen will continue to observe a 10-day quarantine period, while team-mate Chris Woakes will isolate for a minimum of seven days after being deemed a possible close contact.

However, the latest round of results show Moeen to be the only positive case and the rest of the squad can begin restricted training on Wednesday. 

"All PCR tests from yesterday are negative, except for Moeen Ali, and we can start controlled training this afternoon," an ECB spokesman said.

"Close contact Chris Woakes tested negative but will continue to isolate in his room."

England's two-match series with Sri Lanka gets under way in Galle on January 14.

South Africa hammered Sri Lanka by 10 wickets despite Dimuth Karunaratne's battling hundred to seal a 2-0 series win inside three days in Johannesburg.

Karunaratne was unbeaten on 91 at the close of day two of the second Test with Sri Lanka beginning Tuesday's play at 150-4, but any momentum quickly subsided in a sorry collapse.

The tourists added just 61 more runs and lost their final six wickets for the return of a measly 35, setting the Proteas a meagre target of 67, as Anrich Nortje (2-64), Lungi Ngidi (4-44) and Lutho Sipam (3-40) produced devastating spells with the ball.

Dean Elgar (31) and Aiden Markram (36) steered South Africa over the line with ease in just 13 overs either side of the lunch break to complete a convincing victory.

Karunaratne (103) hit successive fours in the third over of the day as he aimed to help Sri Lanka to a competitive total.

But, having already threatened a couple of times, Nortje (2-64) eventually got the Sri Lanka skipper, his wicked delivery edged into the hands of Wiaan Mulder.

Karunaratne's overnight partner Niroshan Dickwella (36) soon followed, falling to the impressive Ngidi, and the remaining wickets tumbled quickly after that.

Mulder (1-52) dismissed Dasun Shanaka (8), while Sipamla swept up the lower order by taking out Wanindu Hasaranga (16), Dushmantha Chameera (0) and Asitha Fernando (0).

Markram and Elgar, whose first-innings 127 was the highest score of the Test, returned to the crease in a professional mood and hit nine boundaries between them.

The former did have a brief scare when Kusal Mendis appeared to catch him low before the boundary, but the third umpire ruled it not out after replays suggested he grounded the ball, and from there it was plain sailing for the hosts.

Dimuth Karunaratne holds the key to Sri Lanka salvaging the second Test with South Africa as the tourists reached 150-4 at stumps on day two - a second-innings lead of just five runs.

Having collapsed to 157 all out in their first innings, Sri Lanka saw Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen build on their overnight stand of 114.

The pair added another 70, Elgar registering his 13th Test century and Van der Dussen eventually dismissed for 67.

But a maiden five-wicket haul in Tests from left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando (5-101) in Johannesburg saw the Proteas collapse from 218-1 to 302 all out, denting their hopes of closing out a 2-0 series win.

A heavy defeat still looked the most likely outcome for Sri Lanka when Kusal Perera fell in the third over of their second innings.

Yet captain Karunaratne counter-attacked in thrilling fashion to post 91 at the close and ensure this side hold a slim advantage with six wickets still in hand.

Elgar knocked a Vishwa delivery past point to bring up three figures and at that moment there was little sign of the chaos to follow, with Van der Dussen easing to a half-century.

The opener eventually edged Dushmantha Chameera to first slip as his innings was ended on 127. Van der Dussen followed in short order, deemed to have gloved Dasun Shanaka behind on review.

Lungi Ngidi (3-26) went round the wicket to remove Perera, the seamer going on to account for Lahiru Thirimanne (31) and Kusal Mendis (0).

However, Sri Lanka - who lost Minod Bhanuka to a stunning Keshav Maharaj catch off first-innings tormenter Anrich Nortje - found hope at the top of the innings in the form of Karunaratne, whose 116-ball stay at the crease has so far yielded 17 fours.

Sri Lanka have little room left for error, though, and will hope the skipper and Niroshan Dickwella (18 not out) can guide them towards a total that Vishwa and an on-form attack at least have a chance of defending.

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