Assured Foakes steers England to safer waters



Foakes showcased the required defence and temperament to compose an unbeaten hand of 49 © AFP

England seemingly had learnt from their mistakes in the opening session. Ben Foakes, Jos Buttler and Sam Curran played important cameos, putting caution over aggression, to help the visitors reach 199/6 at Tea. The debutant will face a nervous 20 minutes or so, going into the break one short of a fifty on debut.

Having won the toss, England came out gung-ho in the first session and looked to dominate. They ended up losing five wickets for 113 runs, with Rory Burns, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Keaton Jennings and Ben Stokes all in the hut.

Ben Foakes and Jos Buttler, however, played with far more caution in the second session, putting on a 61-run alliance that helped England edge towards safety. The change in plan was very apparent. The sweeps, the paddles and the big shots disappeared – instead a straight defence and turning the strike over took precedence. And just like that, the wicket started to look a lot more normal.

Frustrated at the lack of wickets, Sri Lanka started to err. Akila Dhananjaya sprayed the ball around, and the batting pair was able to take toll. Rangana Herath was afforded a lot more respect – with the batsmen playing him mostly with the spin unless the left-armer gave them the obvious chance to break that flow.

Foakes looked assured on debut, having survived a tricky start. The right-hander used his feet and the crease well, and looked comfortable defending or while having to look for gaps. Buttler, too, was largely untroubled, although he was more adventurous than his partner.

Sri Lanka finally got their breakthrough when a Dilruwan Perera delivery kept low and forced Buttler to edge behind while on 38. It gave the home team the opening they were looking for, but Foakes, along with Sam Curran, helped stave off further damage.

Foakes had one nervous moment when a pull off Lakmal dropped just short of short mid-wicket, but that apart the debutant showcased great application and determination.

England overall will be happy with how the second session went – 86 runs for just one wicket – but they will still continue to rue the collapse earlier.

Brief Scores: England 199/6 (Ben Foakes 49*, Jos Buttler 38, Dilruwan Perera 3-38, Suranga Lakmal 2-44) vs Sri Lanka.

© Cricbuzz


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