Leach three-for takes England closer



Leach picked two more in the second session. © AFP

If the England fans had to deal with their team’s lackadaisical fielding effort, what with the visitors shelling some simple catches, Sri Lanka’s supporters had to deal with their batsmen’s fickle temperaments. As this tug-o-war played out, Sri Lanka were reduced to 190 for 5, losing two wickets in the second session in Galle on Friday (November 9).

Apart from the Dinesh Chandimal dismissal, all four batsmen threw their wickets away to ensure England had it their way without much toil. Sri Lanka started the session at 98 for 3, and just like the first session, made a good start. Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews frustrated the visitors with a 46-run stand.

Ben Stokes continued to plug away, bowling short pitch deliveries at both Sri Lankan batsmen. While Mathews kept expecting it, and dispatched them with ease at times, Mendis found it hard to tackle the barrage. Stokes’s persistence eventually worked. Not only did it tie down Mendis, it also produced an opportunity. Mathews, fed up of defending pulled a straight one to midwicket.

The catch was so easy, and Anderson’s drop so astonishing that it drew a stone-dead reaction from Stokes, who on any other occasion would have been furious. Stokes bowled a marathon nine-over spell but the rewards were reaped by Jack Leach. Mendis, trying to pick up some quick runs after a lull, smoked the left-arm spinner over mid-off for a boundary. And then he went again – just this time Moeen Ali was at deepish mid-off and grabbed the easy chance.

Chandimal was undone by a beauty, that pitched on middle, spun away to take the top of off. The twin strikes from Leach had left the hosts reeling 154 for 5.

Mathews kept fighting from the other end and reached his half-century – his second of the game – as England went to another break as the happier side.

Earlier in the day, Dhananjaya de Silva produced another moment of stupidity. In the last over before lunch, he chased a wide one from Stokes and was given out caught behind. The decision was eventually reversed, after a review, but the right-hander poked at one outside off on the very next ball to give a simple catch to Root at first slip.

Both Sri Lankan openers were no different. They checked some boxes, yes, but their manner of dismissals left a lot to be desired. After seeing off the first hour, Kaushal Silva went to sweep a ball too full from Leach and was trapped plumb in front. The scoreboard had moved by just nine when Dimuth Karunaratne charged down the track to lob a simple catch back to the bowler – Moeen.

Brief scores: England 342 &322/6 (Keaton Jennings 146*; Rangana Herath 2-59) lead Sri Lanka 203 & 190/5 (Jack Leach 3-60) by 272 runs.

© Cricbuzz


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