Joe Root felt England's calmness under pressure was the key to securing victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka – but insisted there is still room for improvement ahead of the tour to India. 

England trailed after both teams had batted once in Galle, yet four wickets apiece for spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach helped turn the game their way. 

Sri Lanka rather self-destructed with the bat – something Root revealed the tourists had hoped to bring about by "creating a bit of chaos" - and left their opponents needing just 164 to seal a 2-0 series sweep. 

Dom Sibley anchored the chase, scoring 56 not out having managed only six runs combined in his three previous knocks, while Jos Buttler made an unbeaten 46 to help complete a six-wicket triumph. 

"It was a fine performance in this game. To come out on top having lost the toss on a wicket that, for the majority of the game, we had the worst part of is a testament to the character of the boys," Root said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

"In that second innings, at the back end, it was about dealing with pressure. I thought a number of guys in a very difficult run chase showed a lot of maturity, calmness and poise to see us home. It's a brilliant way to finish the series.

"When we came to bowl, it was about creating a bit of chaos, making it difficult for Sir Lanka to score boundaries.

"We knew if we could build pressure and try and really squeeze the game, we'd create opportunities on that surface. Thankfully, that worked out for us."

He added: "The one thing I'm proud of within our group is how calm we were; how clear we were over how we were going to score runs on that wicket in that chase."

England have little time to bask in their latest success, however, as they head on to India for a four-Test series. For Root, the aim is to keep on progressing during what is a hectic 2021 schedule.

Still, they have won five successive Test matches overseas for the first time since 1914, while they will be boosted by the return of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes in India. Rory Burns is also available again; the opening batsman missed the Sri Lanka trip to be present for the birth of his first child.

"As a team, we are moving forward all the time. We are on a little bit of an upward curve and we've just got to keep on looking to get better," Root - who scored 426 runs in the series at an average of 106.5 - said.

"With four more Tests to come on this tour for us, it's really important we don't stand still. We are not happy with what we have achieved so far, we will keep looking to improve all the time. 

"There will be different challenges, different surfaces to deal with and situations to manage in the coming games, but can we have that same attitude, that same desire to want to improve all the time."

The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Monday that New Zealand will visit in June, playing Root's side in Tests at Lord's and Edgbaston.

England will also play three Twenty20 fixtures and a trio of one-day games against Sri Lanka. 

England wrapped up an impressive six-wicket victory to complete a series sweep after a dramatic Sri Lanka collapse on day four of the second Test. 

Dom Sibley finished up unbeaten on 56 as he and Jos Buttler (46 not out) saw the tourists to a target of 164, the pair putting on a pivotal stand worth 75 after coming together with their team wobbling in the run chase. 

Lasith Embuldeniya claimed three of the wickets to fall as he finished with match figures of 10-210, but Sri Lanka were left to regret a shoddy batting display that saw them all out for 126 in 35.5 overs. 

England added just five runs in the morning before their first innings was wrapped up at 344, meaning Sri Lanka came out to bat again with a useful lead of 37 on a dry, turning pitch. 

However, Dom Bess and Jack Leach claimed four wickets apiece, aided by some questionable shot choices, as Sri Lanka lost the plot. They were reeling on 78-8 when debutant Ramesh Mendis was caught behind for 16 - the top score for the hosts at the time.

Embuldeniya made 40 - easily a career-best knock in all formats - thanks to six fours and a solitary six, while the more reserved Suranga Lakmal (11 not out) was happy to hang around. Eventually, Joe Root came on to claim the final two wickets in just 11 deliveries, leaving England chasing 164. 

The busy Embuldeniya was soon centre stage again as Sri Lanka chipped away to retain hope, Zak Crawley (13), Jonny Bairstow - who made 28 in a hurry - and Dan Lawrence (2) all falling to the left-arm spinner. 

Mendis claimed the prized wicket of Root, bowled off an inside edge trying to play a paddle sweep for 11, but Sibley and Buttler combined to calm any nerves, seeing their team over the finishing line with ease in the end. 

The victory means England have won five successive overseas Test matches for the first time since 1914 - they will hope to continue that run when they head to India next.

Joe Root treated his England team-mates to an education in how to play spin bowling following his domination of the Sri Lanka attack, says Jos Buttler.

Captain Root backed up his 228 in the first Test victory with a monumental 186 in Galle on Sunday, falling cruelly to a run out from the final ball of the day.

Oshada Fernando's quick thinking at short leg meant England closed day three on 339-9 - a first-innings deficit of 42.

Despite that giving Sri Lanka a slight edge in their bid to secure a series-levelling win, attention afterwards understandably focused upon Root, who passed Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower to go fourth on England's all-time list of Test run scorers over the course of a fabulous knock.

"It was quite an amazing innings," Buttler said. "To back up his double hundred in the first Test, to show the mental and physical application to go again.

"It's been a masterclass in batting against spin. It's been a great education for all of us watching from the sidelines.

"We've thoroughly enjoyed watching him and we're gutted for him getting out in that fashion at the end of the day."

Buttler, who was the only other England batsman to pass 50, shared a 97-run stand with Root for the fifth wicket and also marvelled at his skipper's powers of endurance.

The 30-year-old Root motored on during the evening session despite cramps and back pain demonstrating the toll taken.

"For all eight days of the series so far he's been out on the field," Buttler said. "This game feels a lot hotter and lot more draining than the first game, [which had] rain breaks.

"We have to praise not only the tactical and technical aspect of his game, but the physicality and concentration to apply himself for so long.

"Once again, to back up the first Test is quite amazing really."

Lasith Embuldeniya carried the fight for Sri Lanka with superb figures of 7-132, but even the in-form slow left-armer could not escape punishment from Root, who swept with authority and even unfurled an audacious switch hit to fine effect.

"There were some quite amazing shots, really," added Buttler, who is consistently England's most innovative strokemaker across all formats. "It show the confidence and the skill level is amazing.

"He even played a little late cut left-handed. It's been great to watch. His skill level is second to none."

England captain Joe Root was denied a second consecutive double century when he was run out for 186 from the final ball of day three in a gripping second Test against Sri Lanka.

The great Wally Hammond remains the only Englishman in history to have passed 200 in consecutive matches, although Root looked certain to join him as he took the fight to the hosts in majestic fashion

Root is now fourth in England's list of all-time Test runs scorers, having surpassed Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower over the course of a truly magnificent knock, which accounts for the bulk of England's 339-9 – a first-innings deficit of 42.

Before Oshada Fernando collected sharply at short leg to catch the visiting skipper out of his ground, this was another England innings that pitted two supreme performers at the top of their game against one another, with Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya taking 7-132 in a near lone response to Root's brilliance.

Embuldeniya's wide angle on the crease and ability to find biting turn accounted for openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley on day two, and he saw off Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence in similar fashion on Sunday.

Bairstow could only add four to his overnight 24 after a review showed a faint inside edge onto pad that was pouched by Oshada, while Lawrence nicked a beauty to Lahiru Thirimanne at first slip.

Root's immaculate sweep shot meant he was able to largely avoid such problems, even punishing the excellent Embuldeniya with his audacious switch hit.

Substantial support for the captain finally arrived in the form of Jos Buttler, whose crunching off-side drive and reverse sweep were in good order during a fifth-wicket partnership of 97.

Somewhat unfortunately, the latter shot would prove Buttler's downfall after lunch when, on 55, he struck a delivery from debutant Ramesh Mendis (1-48) into his boot and it looped up for the ever-alert Osada to catch.

The Thirimanne-Embuldeniya combination accounted for Sam Curran, Dom Bess and Mark Wood, although Bess played tidily for an important 32 in a stand of 81 as Root motored on despite beginning to struggle with cramps and back pain.

It was a monumental effort over the course of 309 deliveries that did not deserve its cruel sting in the tail.

James Anderson is picking up speed after becoming "obsessed" with watching videos of American sprint legend Carl Lewis.

The veteran England bowler bagged his 30th five-wicket Test haul with figures of 6-40 in Sri Lanka's first innings of the second Test in Galle.

It saw the 38-year-old become the oldest paceman to take a five-wicket haul in a Test played in Asia.

Afterwards, Anderson revealed that he wants to run faster than he ever has before, as part of his drive to remain a vital cog in the England team.

Anderson, whose bowling exploits were followed on Saturday by a fine batting display from captain Joe Root, accepts he will no longer play in every Test.

He was left out for the first game in this two-match series but took Stuart Broad's place this week and showed he remains a formidable force.

Only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble have taken more Test wickets than Anderson, who is always looking for a way to improve.

"Through experience, the more effort you put in, the more rewards you get," he said.

"I've worked really hard on my fitness in the last 12 months. I'm working on stuff like running technique that's going to make me quicker.

"I'm obsessed with Carl Lewis at the moment and watching him run. I don't see why I can't keep improving just because I'm getting older."

Lewis, who won four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, sustained his track and field career into his thirties, but few sportsmen can match the longevity of Anderson.

"I'm thinking I'm still someone who can do a job for England," Anderson said. "I can still win games of cricket.

"When you do get told you're not playing, it is frustrating, but all that made me do was focus on the second Test.

"But the older I've got, the more I realise they're looking after us and trying to manage us.

"We're playing a lot of Test cricket in a short period of time so we're aware we're going to have to rest from time to time."

In reply to Sri Lanka's 381 all out, England reached 98-2 at the close, having been 5-2 at one stage.

Root (67 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (24no) will resume on Sunday, and Anderson said: "We know now we've got to bat big and we've got to bat for a long time to try to win this game.

"We just need a couple of guys to go big – a couple of decent hundreds, as we saw in the first Test match, really makes a big difference.

"I think it's pretty important to try to get a lead if we can, just thinking of how the pitch is going to go. You don't want to chase down too many in the fourth innings if we're going to win."

Root made a double century in that first Test, and went past Geoffrey Boycott in Saturday's innings to nudge up to sixth place on the list of England's all-time leading run-scorers.

"I'm pretty sure he's not thinking about milestones when he's out there," Anderson said. "I'm not sure he's that sort of player."

Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow came to England's rescue after Sri Lanka again tortured the tourists' openers with spin, leaving the second Test well poised in Galle.

Sri Lanka advanced from their overnight 229-4 to 381 all out, with James Anderson snagging 6-40, before Lasith Embuldeniya reduced England to 5-2 in their first innings.

They recovered to reach the close on 98-2, with captain Root (67 not out) and ally Bairstow (24no) showing cool-headed resilience, although the latter survived a precarious lbw call just before the close.

Root, in his 99th Test, went beyond fellow Yorkshire great Geoff Boycott's career haul of 8,114 runs at this level during his unflappable innings, going sixth on England's all-time list.

By contrast to the third-wicket pair, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley have found left-arm spinner Embuldeniya almost unplayable in this series.

The 24-year-old removed both openers for single-figure scores in each innings of the first Test and on this occasion he prised out Sibley for a duck and Crawley for just five.

Sibley was back on his stumps, floundering, when Embuldeniya breached his defences to get the lbw verdict, and Crawley was prised out by a delicious delivery that caught the edge and angled into the hands of Lahiru Thirimanne at first slip.

It means Sibley has made just six runs in three innings, Crawley faring little better with only 22 so far on this tour.

Fortunately for England, the Yorkshire pair of Root and Bairstow brought their experience to bear and found a way to exert control, pushing and prodding but mostly sweeping and reverse-sweeping their way to stability.

Anderson had earlier caught the eye once again, the 38-year-old producing figures that statistically rank as the fourth best of his Test career.

Already armed with three wickets from day one, Anderson made a swift impact in the morning by having century maker Angelo Mathews caught by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler for 110 in the second over of the day.

Niroshan Dickwella weighed in with 92 before falling to Anderson as he and Dilruwan Perera (67) put Sri Lanka in a sturdy position.

 

England caught in a spin

While Anderson was going through his majestic repertoire, Jack Leach and Dom Bess toiled for a combined 0-195 from 64 overs.

They were made to look limited by Sri Lanka's batsmen, who handled the England spin pair far more adeptly than during the first Test, when together they snagged 14 wickets.

This time there was no penetration, but Sri Lanka's premier spinner Embuldeniya immediately found zip, accuracy and effective turn, humiliating England's top two batsmen once again.

Crawley made 267 against Pakistan at Southampton last August, and he has one innings left in Galle to show his true quality.

Kevin Pietersen was moved to post to Twitter a letter he once received from Rahul Dravid on how to play spin, urging England management to pass the guidance to the openers.

Remarkable Root

England's skipper made a double century in the first Test against Sri Lanka, and again he soon got on top of the home side's attack.

He struck seven boundaries in reaching his fifty, never looking in trouble.

Sri Lanka appealed for an lbw when Root offered no shot to a turning ball from Dilruwan Perera, but the ball started out so wide that it was always missing by a long way.

England will want more of the same from Root on Sunday, and should that be forthcoming this could turn into quite some match.

Target: Bairstow

Sri Lanka will want to break up the established partnership as early as possible on day three, with Bairstow looking the more vulnerable batsman.

If Embuldeniya finds his choice line early in the day, he will fancy removing the man who England have surprisingly chosen to rest for their upcoming series with India.

England have replaced Stuart Broad with James Anderson as they aim to clinch a fourth successive series victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

A seven-wicket win in Galle gave the tourists a 1-0 lead in the rearranged series, following on from an overseas triumph in South Africa a year ago, plus successes against West Indies and Pakistan on home soil.

Joe Root led from the front with a double-century last time out and, with the recalled Jonny Bairstow and debutant Dan Lawrence also contributing runs, the tourists have gone with the same batting line-up.

Anderson comes into the side as England make just the one change, with Broad given a rest, as Mark Wood retains his place and Olly Stone misses out along with Chris Woakes. 

As for Sri Lanka, they will once again be without Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne as he continues to recover from a fractured thumb.

Kusal Mendis has been dropped after a poor run of form with the bat – he has managed just 27 runs in his last six Test innings – while seam duo Lahiru Kumara and Nuwan Pradeep, as well as wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka, have been allowed to depart the bio-secure bubble.

The home side will be aiming to prevent their opponents from winning a fifth successive Test overseas, a feat England have not achieved since a run of seven in a row between 1911 and 1914.

Sri Lanka fought back well after being dismissed for only 135 in their first innings of the opening Test and captain Root knows England cannot expect to have things all their own way as they eye another triumph on tour.

He said: "They are a proud team and they have a great record at this ground. Not only that, they have some very talented players.

"We already saw that throughout the game with how it unfolded in the second innings. The way that they played with the bat in the second innings was very different to the first and showed that in those conditions, they are a very hard side to break down.

"We know that this isn't going to be an easy game for us."


LEACH IN SIGHT OF RECORD

Jack Leach was understandably a little rusty in the previous game, having only played in two first-class fixtures throughout 2020. However, the left-arm spinner improved as he clocked up the overs, claiming 5-122 in the second innings to leave England needing just 74 for victory.

His six in the match lifted his career Test tally in Sri Lanka to 24, just one behind Ashley Giles who sits top of the all-time list for England. Considering it is expected to be another spin-friendly surface in Galle, Leach will fancy his chances of taking top spot before the short tour concludes.

SRI LANKA AIM TO STOP THE ROT

Despite showing some defiance with both bat and ball in the opening Test, Sri Lanka have now lost three in a row. They have not suffered a longer losing run since a four-game span between December 2015 and May 2016.

Their first-innings total of 135 left them with too much ground to make up second time around, so the continued absence of opener Karunaratne is a blow.

KEY MATCH FACTS

- England will be looking to record a third successive Test series win against Sri Lanka for the first time.
- England have lost only one of their Tests since the start of 2020 (W7, D2) and are undefeated in their last six of that stretch (W4, D2) – the last time they went on a longer unbeaten run was a 13-Test span (W7, D6) from November 2012 to August 2013.
- Joe Root made 228 last time out, his maiden Test double-century in Asia. That innings included 74 runs from conventional sweep shots, almost twice the number of his previous high in a Test match (41 at Pallekele versus Sri Lanka in November 2018).
- Lahiru Thirimanne has scored 50 or more in two of his past three Test innings at Galle, after doing so only once in his previous 12 knocks at the venue.
- Jos Buttler held on to all five catching opportunities in the series opener; only once before in his Test career has he managed to claim more catches without dropping one (July 2014 v India – 6/6).

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.

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.

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.

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