England’s spin trio leave Sri Lanka reeling as Foakes continues to impress
Sri Lanka cricket team England in Sri Lanka 2018 England cricket team Facebook Share on WhatsApp Twitter Read more Reuse this content Pinterest Share on Twitter Since you’re here… Cricket Share on LinkedIn Read more Support The Guardian ‘I was planning a winter off,’ says Foakes after rescuing England in Sri Lanka Share on Facebook … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. The increasingly familiar sight of Foakes dominated the first session. He began it on 87 and no one quarrelled that he deserved his century after his first day efforts but would he get there? He cover drove his first ball for four but then Leach was dismissed, caught at slip against the off-spinner, Dilruwan Perera. As Jimmy Anderson emerged Foakes was in danger of being stranded on 95 yet he coped with this little challenge as smoothly as he has done everything else in this match. First he whipped a delivery from Suranga Lakmal to the leg-side boundary, then he punched an exquisite back-foot drive past the bowler. Forget that this was his debut, he had become the first English wicketkeeper to score a hundred in Asia. His solitary blemish after two days of Test cricket was a merry mis-hit, which saw him caught at cover for 107.Two balls later Foakes was back in the action. A regulation nick from Dimuth Karunaratne against Anderson and he had his first victim. No England keeper has had a shorter wait. Foakes has laid down a highly visible marker very quickly. When lunch came there was Jonny Bairstow on the outfield with the keeping coach, Bruce French, taking some catches with his gloves on. Suddenly one wondered whether this practice now had any relevance.By lunch Sri Lanka had lost four wickets. Sam Curran in his solitary spell in the innings removed Kaushal Silva with the standard, yet often dangerous delivery that swings into the pads. Next Leach, minded to bowl to a conservative field as planned, dismissed Kusal Mendis with a classic delivery that was edged to slip. Then Moeen was the beneficiary of a wayward sweep shot in his first over as Dhananjaya de Silva was bowled around his legs. Topics England’s cricketers have not enjoyed such a satisfying day in Asia since the 2012 tour of India. On the first day in Galle their batting was skittish at the start and doubts prevailed whether they had taken proper advantage of winning the toss, but now on the most sun-kissed afternoon of the tour they conjured a first innings lead of 139 by bowling Sri Lanka out for 203.This should allow them to control the game (despite England’s ascendancy only a greenhorn would opt for the future tense here). By the close their lead had been extended by another 38 runs to 177.Even better, eight of the 10 Sri Lanka wickets fell to the trio of English spin bowlers, who all responded eagerly to their puppeteer, Joe Root. Moeen Ali (four for 66), Adil Rashid (two for 30) and Jack Leach (two for 41) are not yet versions of Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Prasanna, the India dream trio of the 70s but they performed well enough and everything fell into place against a Sri Lanka side off the pace in their favourite back yard in Galle, where England have never won a Test match.Only Angelo Mathews could post a half-century as England whittled away with a purpose. The bowling was steady, the out-cricket truly outstanding. In the field they were sharp and flawless while Ben Foakes behind the stumps was as polished with the gloves as he had been with the bat. Share via Email match reports Moeen Ali took four Sri Lankan wickets on a day when England’s slow bowlers came to the fore. Photograph: Ishara S Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images Ed Smith’s clever picks have given England a Ferguson-style makeover Share on Messenger Eventually it was Rashid, the least employed of the spinning triumvirate, who broke the partnership with a beguiling leg-break. Chandimal had been restricted by a groin injury; even so he advanced down the track to a beautifully flighted delivery, which spun away. With Chandimal stranded Foakes inevitably did the necessary, an early stumping to add to his catch.When Mathews fell to the first ball after tea, caught at forward short-leg off Moeen, the innings was in some disarray. Niroshan Dickwella countered briefly but was deftly caught at cover by Jos Buttler, whose presence in the ring raised the standard of England’s fielding. Immediately Akila Dananjaya fell to the hot combination of Foakes and Moeen and the end was nigh. England gave the last man, Rangana Herath, a guard of honour, and the little old man batted pluckily thereafter. But he was bowling again before the day was out.England had 12 overs to bat and they negotiated them with some assurance. Keaton Jennings was the dominant partner, eager to replicate the positive approach of his first innings. But Rory Burns’ contribution was equally impressive. He had received a painful blow to the top of his back when fielding at bat-pad as tea approached. He fell to the ground and stayed there for a while and did not reappear for some time after the break. This was the solitary blip of the day for England, overcome without any fuss. Share on Pinterest The only resistance came in the afternoon session when the two most experienced Sri Lankans, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, captains past and present, joined forces. England bided their time with deep-set fields for the spinners, preying on the patience of players who knew their side were already in a substantial hole. They took their singles but their boundary count was restricted.