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ENGLAND knocked over a haphazard Sri Lanka for just 135 to take immediate control of the first Test in Galle today, with Stuart Broad outstanding and Dom Bess riding his luck all the way to a five-wicket haul.
“You don’t get days much better than these in the subcontinent,” said Broad after England demolished their hosts before reaching stumps on 127 for two. “Bowling a team out cheaply and getting close to them two down is fantastic.”
The tourists were wary of making a sloppy start to the tour after just one day of intra-squad warm-up action since touching down in Hambantota, but instead found themselves cashing in on a dreadfully loose performance from their hosts.
They were all out in just 46.1 overs, losing their top three in the morning session and a cluster of seven for 54 between lunch and tea, with Bess the chief beneficiary of good fortune and rank strokeplay.
Captain Joe Root (66no) and the returning Jonny Bairstow (47no) then compounded the situation, sharing a 110-run stand to bring their side to the brink of parity, and will now fancy building towards a major lead on day two — which began early this morning.
Bess did amit to being flattered by career-best figures of five for 30, with the dismissal of Dilruwan Perera arguably the only genuine victory among the bunch — coaxed into an ambitious missed drive which let the ball rip through the gate for a duck.
“I was probably a little bit underprepared given the circumstances at the moment and the weather out here,” Bess said, after otherwise benefiting from good luck and Sri Lankan errors.
“I will probably bowl a lot better on other days and not take any wickets so I’ve got to take them.”
England fell to 17 for two in reply, Embuldeniya nipping out Dom Sibley on the outside edge and persuading Zak Crawley into a mis-hit down the ground, but would soon converge around their Yorkshire-born engine room.
Root and Bairstow both settled into the conditions, favouring back and front foot respectively as they carefully negated a trio of spinners. An overturned lbw decision against Root on 20 proved something of a turning point, with the sedate scoring rate picking up thereafter.
Play resumed at 4.30am GMT this morning
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