Dom Sibley

Sri Lanka v England second Test: Dom Sibley guides visitors to 2-0 series win


England’s spinners came to the fore in thrilling style and Dom Sibley passed a significant test of character as the tourists sealed a 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka on a dramatic day in Galle.

Scorecard: Sri Lanka v England Second Test

Sri Lanka first innings 381 all out: (Mathews 110, Dickwella 92, Perera 67, Chandimal 52; Anderson 6-40, Wood 3-84)

England first innings 344 all out: (Root 186, Buttler 55; Embuldeniya 7-137)

Sri Lanka second innings 126 all out: (Embuldeniya 40; Bess 4-49, Leach 4-59)

England second innings 164-4: (Sibley 56*, Buttler 46*; Embuldeniya 3-73)

England won by six wickets


Day four report

England’s spinners came to the fore in thrilling style and Dom Sibley passed a significant test of character as the tourists sealed a 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka on a dramatic day in Galle.

Joe Root’s side had spent most of the first three days chasing the game in this second Test but made their move emphatically on Monday, with Jack Leach and Dom Bess flooring the accelerator as they shared eight wickets to bowl Sri Lanka out for just 126.

That left England chasing a potentially thorny 164 for victory, with a wearing pitch and an ebullient Lasith Embuldeniya standing in their way.

For once they had to get there without a significant contribution from the bat of captain Root, with Sibley and Jos Buttler sharing a priceless stand of 75.

Buttler’s 46 not out came quicker, more pleasingly and with a greater degree of confidence but he has been in good form for some time and is a well-renowned player of spin, meaning Sibley’s hard-working 56no was the more significant.

After managing just six runs from his previous three innings the opener was facing rising speculation over his place for next month’s tour of India and dug in to play his part.

He did need the benefit of ‘umpire’s call’ to save him from three separate lbw appeals, but he was tighter in defence and found a way to open up scoring areas and see his team home with the winning run.

Victory was England’s fifth in a row overseas, stretching back to last winter’s trip to South Africa and matching a streak last seen in 1914.

Reaction

Joe Root: "That is exactly what we wanted. The challenge now is to replicate this over and over again as a team.

"We have to look at this as a platform, a starting position, and not be happy with what we’ve achieved here. We’ve got four very important games coming up against arguably the best team in the world in their own conditions.

"But the guys know there is so much further this group can go. We have just got to stay hungry and we have just got to keep looking to get better.

"We’ll have to play right at the top of our game to win out in India, but we couldn’t be in a better place to go and challenge them. That really excites me and it should excite the rest of the group as well."

Dom Sibley: "I’ve had a bit of a stinker in this series. I started to doubt myself a little bit before today. It was nice to spend some time at the crease and give myself a chance.

"Watching Joe Root makes you feel a little inadequate to be quite frank! He’s made it look so easy.

"It was just a case of believing, and trying not to doubt myself too much even though I’d had three failures to the same bowler (Lasith Embuldeniya).

"I was trying to spend 20 balls, 30 balls to try to get into the innings a little bit and build the partnership, and take the focus off myself."

Day three report

Joe Root produced another masterpiece of sub-continental batting with a wonderful century that carried the England cause almost single-handedly in the second Test at Galle.

Root might have been brought up in Sheffield but he has never looked more at home than in Sri Lanka, where he followed his relentless 228 in the series opener with a knock of 186 from same elite level.

The England captain had never before hit hundreds in back-to-back matches but there was an air of inevitability about his 19th Test ton, with his team endlessly grateful for his stocks of class and concentration across 309 balls.

There was a physical price to pay in the sapping heat, with the 30-year-old visibly suffering from fatigue, cramp and a late back spasm. It was tiredness which eventually cost him in the final over of the day, run out from short-leg as his stiff legs struggled to make the turn before Oshada Fernando threw down the stumps.

That left England 339 for nine, still 42 behind, heading into the fourth morning. Without Root the tourists would surely have been staring at a vast deficit and the likelihood of certain defeat at some point in the next 48 hours. That may still happen, but Root’s outright brilliance restored the balance of the contest and his presence in the fourth innings cannot be overlooked.

Resuming on 67 overnight, he added another 119, sweeping and reverse sweeping with impunity and also adding a new eye-catching trick to his repertoire. At one point in the morning session he channelled his inner Kevin Pietersen, flipping his hands and stance to attempt the lesser spotted ‘switch hit’. The ball pinged out of the middle of the bat and raced to the ropes and gave him enough confidence to repeat the trick twice more.

Pietersen was one of three star names Root surpassed to go fourth on England’s all-time run-scorer list over the past two days, joining Sir Geoffrey Boycott and David Gower.

On another day Lasith Embuldeniya would already be a match-winner. With both openers already in his back pocket on Saturday evening, he added the scalps of Jonny Bairstow, Dan Lawrence, Sam Curran, Dom Bess and Mark Wood to claim seven for 132.

The day began with Bairstow being undone by Embuldeniya. He was copping plenty of chatter from wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella – who told him he had been dropped, not rested, for next month’s India tour – and nicked to slip via his front pad.

Root immediately began accumulating again, rocking on his heels to pull Embuldeniya for four and getting stuck into his trusted arsenal of sweeps. Even so his first switch hit came as a surprise, leaping into the guise of a left-hander and dragging the ball powerfully to the ropes. By now the home attack knew almost nowhere was safe to bowl.

Things were less straight forward for Lawrence, nicking Embuldeniya for three having already survived a stumping chance. Root brought up his hundred off 139 balls – 24 quicker than his first hundred last time out – and joined another Yorkshire great, Sir Len Hutton, on 19 Test tons.

Jos Buttler - tipped for a half-century at 9/4 by our in-form Richard Mann - started positively, with one statement drive through mid-off and a couple of neat reverse sweeps. Root was showing clear signs of weariness in the middle session, during which he added just 32 as his energy waned.

Buttler assumed the attacking role as Root drew breath, but finally fell on 55 to the stroke that had brought him plenty of joy previously, diverting the ball into his front foot and up into the hands of Oshada.

Curran managed one act of defiance with a six down the ground but was not comfortable and nicked Embuldeniya to slip in the last over before tea attempting to kill the spin.

Root’s march from 100 to 150 took him 118 deliveries but he has made that conversion on eight prior occasions and knows the terrain. At one stage he even reversed his hands then poked an improvised cut into space after the ball spat.

When he finally offered up a chance he had 172, nicking a flatter one from Embuldeniya to slip, but Lahiru Thirimanne caused dismay by failing to get a clean hand on the catch.

Bess did an admirable job at number eight, lasting 95 balls for 32 as Root churned away in a stand of 81, before he and Wood both joined Embuldeniya’s growing collection in the closing stages.

Root’s end came in ill-fitting fashion but Sri Lanka deserve great respect for spotting the late chance and almost guaranteeing a workable advantage.

Buttler told Sky Sports: “It has been a pretty good day. The batting conditions are tougher than the first two days.

“It was a fantastic hundred again from Joe Root, a masterful knock, it is a pleasure for us all to watch him. He was unfortunate to get out late in the day, but an amazing effort, both physically, and technically, a masterclass.

“If we can eek out any runs with the last pair it will be important come the fourth innings. The pitch is starting to take more spin and play more tricks on the batsman. We have to look forward to that as a batting group, but also to bowl well tomorrow to give ourselves a target to chase."

Speaking to BBC’s Test Match Special, Buttler added: “We’re all in awe of what Joe has just achieved really.

“It’s amazing, his powers of concentration and talking about how quickly he picks the length and line of the delivery. He barely put a foot wrong in the space of two days. It is fantastic to watch.

“Root is one of the finest players of spin in the world and for all of us in the dressing room it is a great strength to have, and someone to learn from. As an example of how to play spin, there isn’t many better than Joe.”


Day two report

England were once again looking to Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow after Sri Lanka defied James Anderson’s best efforts on another hard-fought day at the second Test at Galle.

The hosts posted a challenging 381 in their first innings, with Anderson raising his own bar at the grand old age of 38 with career-best figures of six for 40 in Asian conditions.

England then slipped to five for two, before Root reeled off a fluent half-century to follow last week’s double hundred, ably backed by his fellow Yorkshireman as they added 93 without further loss.

Anderson’s masterful six for 40 was the standout bowling performance as all 10 home wickets fell to pace, the first time that has happened on this island in two decades and, while that was a feather in the cap of the English seamers, it was also an awkward statistic for spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess. Between them the duo sent down 64 overs for 195 as they failed to make any kind of impression on proceedings.

The notion that the pitch was simply too flat or too unresponsive to work with was soon put bed as slow left-armer Lasith Embuldeniya continued his complete dominance of openers Dom Sibley (nought) and Zak Crawley (five). He has now accounted for both men in single figures on all six occasions this series, placing a hefty workload on the middle order.

Luckily for England, Root’s stylish array of sweeps saw him race to 67 not and Bairstow continued his impressive return to the Test arena with an unbeaten 24.

Sri Lanka had started on 229 for four but saw their platform eroded almost immediately as Anderson and centurion Angelo Mathews, the two key figures from Friday’s play, faced off again.

With the second new ball still hard Anderson had the tools to conjure some seam movement off the pitch and leapt up for caught behind as his sixth delivery of the morning flicked something on the way through. The shout was waved away, but a clearly dubious Root was persuaded to take a second look with DRS.

A tiny spike showed up on UltraEdge leaving Mathews (110) looking aggrieved and England overjoyed. Debutant Ramesh Mendis was unable to wipe away their smiles, gone for a seven-ball duck as he flicked Mark Wood off his pads and Jos Buttler flung himself into a fine catch.

At that point a sub-300 total still looked possible, but Niroshan Dickwella would not allow it. He drove well against pace and looked far too assured to let either Bess or Leach cut him short, sweeping and pulling them nicely.

The wicketkeeper passed fifty for the 16th time before lunch and moved past his career best of 83 afterwards, seemingly dead set on a maiden hundred.

But England hatched a fresh plan and, to no great surprise, it hinged on Anderson’s application. Angling the ball across the left-hander with a ring of catchers on the off-side, he drew Dickwella into a rash drive on 92, with Leach plucking it well at mid-off.

Suranga Lakmal turned Anderson’s 30th five-for into a six, flashing hard to gully two balls later. Dilruwan Perera (67) added another 49 with numbers 10 and 11, but Wood and Sam Curran chipped away to end the innings after 140 long overs.

The ineffectiveness of spin in the first innings was cast into sharp relief as soon as Embuldeniya began to work his magic. He was all over England’s openers in the first Test and the same pattern unfolded again with grim inevitability.

He did not concede a single run from his first 19 deliveries, in which time he had Sibley bang to rights, lbw for nought, and Crawley held at slip for five. Sibley was spooked by turn then undone by one that kicked straight on, while Crawley nicked one that drifted and gripped.

Coming together on five for two, Root and Bairstow show their top-order colleagues how it was done. Root was quick to crunch an early sweep for four and would once again lean on the shot that worked wonders for him last time around.

There were fine sweeps, slog sweeps and reverse sweeps, all of which brought him boundaries and eased him along to a 65-ball fifty. Twice he hit three fours in an over, Mendis and Embuldeniya both on the receiving end, and overtook fellow Yorkshireman Sir Geoffrey Boycott in sixth place on England’s Test runs chart.

Bairstow attacked sparingly but effectively and just survived Perera’s lbw appeal on umpire’s call as he played his part in a 93-run partnership.

Day one report

James Anderson was a class apart on his return to the England side but a century from old adversary Angelo Mathews made it a fair fight on day one of the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Anderson put his ego and record-breaking status aside to sit out the series opener but, having traded places with Stuart Broad in Galle, was quick to restate his enduring class as he got the better of the home side’s top order on a batsman’s pitch.

The 38-year-old finished with exemplary figures of three for 24 on a surface offering precious little encouragement, but Sri Lanka will be more than happy with a score of 229 for four.

Mathews provided the necessary steel, coming to the crease with the scoreboard at seven for two and reaching stumps on 107 not out.

It was his 11th Test hundred, the first two of which came at Lord’s and Headingley during a memorable tour in 2014. With spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach struggling to make any impression despite sharing 40 overs, England were also thankful for Mark Wood’s show of heart.

He bowled reliably fast in stifling heat and claimed the wicket of Dinesh Chandimal deep in a back-breaking eight-over spell with a ragged old ball.

Despite winning the toss, Sri Lanka soon found themselves facing a bad case of deja-vu. Having vowed to improve on their 135 all out in last week’s first innings they were quickly teetering staring at a repeat.

Kusal Perera, fresh from a desperately tight lbw shout from Sam Curran’s second ball, was first to fall.

The flighty opener decided he would not allow Anderson to work his way into rhythm, but his irresponsible hack in the vague direction of long-on succeeded only in a chunky edge and high slip catch for Joe Root.

Oshada Fernando was a fresh face at number three, recalled following Kusal Mendis’ run of four ducks in five innings, but the result was painfully familiar.

The new man lasted just four balls before steering a rising delivery from Anderson back into his stumps for yet another nought in that key position.

By the time he had wrapped up his clinical five-over burst, Anderson had allowed only three runs and gifted his team an unexpected shot of momentum.

But Lahiru Thirimanne and Mathews calmed the situation, with a lengthy reminder that a surface like this required nothing more than cool heads and straight bats.

The pair, fresh from scores of 111 and 71 in their previous innings, added 69 to the score before lunch as Leach and Bess struggled to create any kind of mischief.

The start of the afternoon session meant another Anderson spell and he required just two balls to usher Thirimanne to the pavilion for 43, finding a good area and a flicker of movement towards the cordon as the left-hander nicked behind.

The strangle continued with the veteran’s economy rate comfortably below one until Mathews finally worked him away for a pair of boundaries in his 10th over.

Both were examples of the veteran’s ability to find the runs on offer, breaking out of his watchful method only when there was enough width to draw him out or an error in length.

Chandimal was slightly busier as he joined Mathews and even launched Bess for a big six as he explored the aerial route. With England’s slow bowlers still quiet, it fell to Mark Wood to force the issue.

He answered the call for pace and worked up a head of steam in the afternoon, hitting Chandimal twice on the glove and once flush in the grille with an awkward bouncer. Sri Lanka absorbed the threat and reached tea on 155 for three.

They continued their good work as the evening’s play began, blotting out Anderson for the first time as he tried his luck from both ends, and continuing their accumulation against the spinners. And so Root summoned Wood again.

This time he pushed himself to the limit, running down his reserves across an unusually long spell of reverse-swing with the ageing Kookaburra.

The exertion was etched across his face but the key difference this time was the end result, a richly-deserved lbw decision against Chandimal earning him his first wicket of the series.

Mathews did not allow his concentration to dip and was eased towards three figures as Leach offered a handful of low-risk singles.

Seven overs with the new ball brought no change, as Niroshan Dickwella and Mathews played for stumps from a position of strength.

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