Angelo Mathews (63*) and Dinesh Chandimal (42*) not just propped up Sri Lanka’s innings with an undefeated partnership of 81 for the fourth wicket, but also gave the hosts the required platform to eye a good score as Sri Lanka went into Tea at 155/3 on Day 1 of the second Test against England.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the experienced duo as both had to wade through tricky periods of play. Initially, after Lahiru Thirimanne fell to a loose shot off Anderson at the start of the session, the pair had to negate the threat of the experienced paceman. Once Mathews and Chandimal negotiated Anderson, Mark Wood summoned a quick spell. In the 37th over, Wood found some swing with the old ball and zoomed in on the stumps but Mathews kept it out.
Wood, though, continued to test the pair with the yorker and short ball combination. In the 41st over, he smashed Chandimal’s helmet grille with the short ball and followed it up by hitting the Sri Lanka captain’s glove. Chandimal survived the spell and then showed his class and quality by lofting Dom Bess over long-off. Wood, who touched 94mph during the course of his spell, became increasingly frustrated.
Meanwhile, Mathews completed a gritty fifty with an unconvincing, attempted pull shot off Wood. The key point to note is the duo has largely looked untroubled by the spinners on a track that is expected to help the slow bowlers as the game progresses.
Earlier, Anderson had made crucial inroads upfront. The hosts, who opted to bat, made an ordinary start. Kusal Perera, survived a close LBW shout off Sam Curran before he chased an away-swinger from Anderson and was caught by Joe Root in the slip cordon. Oshada Fernando then inside-edged an outswinger in the same over onto the stumps.
However, with Sri Lanka in early trouble, Mathews and Thirimanne joined forces to steady the innings. Mathews cracked the loft and whipped Jack Leach to collect boundaries while Thirimanne essayed the occasional drive and slog-sweep to keep the scorecard ticking over. The pair also rotated the strike by pinching singles and twos. To keep the pressure on the opposition, Root introduced Bess into the attack but the off-spinner couldn’t make much of an impact.
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