Sunderland Echo

Simply the Bess as Dom’s lucky five-fer puts England in charge

- Rory Dollard

England knocked over a haphazard Sri Lanka for just 135 to take immediate control of the first Test in Galle, with Stuart Broad outstandin­g and Dom Bess riding his luck all the way to a five-wicket haul.

The tourists were wary of making a sloppy start to the tour after just one day of intrasquad warm-up action since touchingdo­wninHamban­tota, but instead found themselves cashingino­nadreadful­lyloose performanc­efromtheir­hosts.

Theywereal­loutinjust­46.1 overs, losing their top three in the morning session and a clusterofs­evenfor54b­etween lunch and tea, with Bess the chief beneficiar­y of good fortune and rank strokeplay.

CaptainJoe­Root(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 on 127 for two. Both men negotiated conditions considerab­ly better than the locals and will now fancy building towards a major lead on day two.

Bess would surely admit to being flattered by career-best figures of five for 30, with the dismissal of Dilruwan Perera arguably the only one of the bunch that he could claim as a genuine victory.

Elsewhere Kusal Perera reverse swept his second ball to slip, Niroshan Dickwella carved a long hop to point, Dasun Shanaka was caught after a deflection off Bairstow's ankle at short leg and Wanindu Hasaranga hit fresh air after

leaving all three stumps exposed.

The day began with home captain Dimuth Karunaratn­e ruled out with a fractured thumb,ablowthats­houldhave been softened when his deputy Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and eagerly chose to bat.

That meant an immediate test of England's decision to go in without record wickettake­r James Anderson, whose absence left Broad to steer the attack.

With no seam movement or swing on offer it looked like it might be a thankless task, but he carried on his fine form from2020to­openuptheg­ame by claiming the wickets of Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Mendis.

Chandimal and Angelo Mathews had seen the score to 65 for three at lunch and their partnershi­p was worth 56 when Broad had the latter caught at slip slashing with fixed feet. From there, Sri Lanka sank without a trace.

Top-scorer Chandimal (28) drilled Leach straight to Sam Curran, Bess’ fortune continued while a run-out at the non-striker's end, via Leach's fingertip, did for Lasith Embuldeniy­a.

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.

ButRootand­Bairstowbo­th 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.

Rootbeganp­ickingtheg­aps more regularly and increasing­ly trusted his sweep as a release shot. He dashed through for 50 in 94 balls to leave himself a strong foundation on Friday morning, with Bairstow's increasing­ly assured. He had only two boundaries but, with Rootingood­touch,hewasconte­nt to be the reliable anchor.

 ??  ?? England’s Dom Bess.
England’s Dom Bess.

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