England gain crucial WTC points after clinical win against Sri Lanka

 England gain crucial WTC points after clinical win against Sri Lanka
GALLE-England took 1-0 series lead with a seven-wicket win in the first Test against Sri Lanka, gaining crucial points in the ICC World Test Championship. 

The visitors stuttered at the start but eventually managed to scale the paltry target of 74, going 1-0 up in the series. Needing 36 on the final day, the duo of Jonny Bairstow (35*) and Dan Lawrence (21*) shared an unbeaten half-century stand to take England home within the first hour on day five. Lawrence survived a couple of close calls at the beginning but the Sri Lanka bowlers did little to disturb the pair’s rhythm. 

With the victory, England gained 60 points, in the World Test Championship table. They are still fourth on the list and will eagerly await the result of the fourth Australia v India Test. Sri Lanka, who had opted to bat first, were thoroughly outplayed in the first innings as they capitulated for 135. Dom Bess was the wrecker-in-chief in the first innings as he claimed his second five-wicket haul in Tests. In response, England were terrific with the bat, scoring 421 in the first innings. 

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Their captain Joe Root led from the front, scoring his fourth double ton in Tests. Debutant Lawrence also impressed with a well-made 73. Sri Lanka showed more resolve in the second innings and fought back admirably. Their openers Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne shared a 101-run stand. Kusal made 62, while Thirimanne slammed a patient 111. The experienced Angelo Mathews also chipped in with a hard-fought 71. However, England’s huge first-innings lead meant that Sri Lanka had a mountain to scale and could only add 73 more before getting bowled out for 359. Jack Leach picked up five wickets, while Bess added another three to his match tally. 

Chasing 74, the visitors faltered in the final hour on day four when they lost their top-order cheaply. However, Bairstow and Lawrence ensured England did not lose any more wickets to seem them safely home. Joe Root was named the Player of the Match for his first innings knock of 228, his second double-century against Sri Lanka. The teams will face off in the second Test, also in Galle, starting on Friday, 22 January.

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Crawley c Mendis b Embuldeniya 8

Dom Sibley b Embuldeniya 2

Jonny Bairstow not out 35

Joe Root run out 1

Dan Lawrence not out 21

EXTRAS: (b 4, lb 5) 9

TOTAL: (3 wkts, 24.2 overs) 76

FOW: 1-3, 2-12, 3-14. 

BOWLING: Lasith Embuldeniya 12-3-29-2, Dilruwan Perera 11.2-2-34-0, PWH de Silva 1-0-4-0. 

TOSS: Sri Lanka

UMPIRES: Dharmasena, Palliyaguruge

TV UMPIRE: Lyndon Hannibal

MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle

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