'Ruthless' Root hits first ton in over a year

'Ruthless' Root hits first ton in over a year

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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GALLE, Sri Lanka (AFP) — Captain Joe Root yesterday said he wants England to be “ruthless” after his unbeaten 168 took the team's lead to 185 over Sri Lanka on a rain-hit second day of the opening Test.

England were 320 for four when rain halted play in Galle. Root and Dan Lawrence, who scored 73 on his Test debut, built a 173-run partnership after the tourists resumed the day on 127-2.

Root, who is batting with Jos Buttler (7), hit his 18th Test ton and kept up the pressure on the home bowlers despite losing overnight partner Jonny Bairstow for 47 early in the day.

“I think the things could happen very quickly, as the game moves forward, generally, here. It is really important that we make the most of this first innings lead that we have got now,” Root told reporters.

“We will be really ruthless. I have spoken about this ahead of the series and [the need to] make it count and put them under pressure. That way [we would only have to] try and bat just once.”

After a full opening day in the empty stadium in Galle it began raining just before the start of the second day, which wiped out the final session.

Root started the day on 66 and passed 100 soon after lunch with a single off Dilruwan Perera. He raised his bat and hugged Lawrence.

It was the star batsman's highest Test score in more than a year after going through 2020 without a century, and he said he felt “good” to make it count.

“Generally when I get a hundred I make it really count,” Root, who has a Test best of 254 in 98 Tests, said. “I have got a good record past 100. Tomorrow I will try to make another really big one and drive the game forward from there.”

He added, “I felt I really got in a good mindset throughout this game so far. [I] will try and take that forward into the rest of this winter tour and beyond.”

England will tour India for a full series, including four Tests after the two matches in Sri Lanka, as part of a hectic cricket calendar in 2021.

Debut special

Lawrence, 23, stood firm with his captain, displaying confidence against the spinners as he brought up his fifty in 95 balls with five fours and one six.

Lawrence, who plays for English county Essex, survived two dropped catches on 60 and 68 and finally fell to Perera.

“Very impressed. I thought he played magnificently well,” Root said of the Essex batsman.

“Showed exactly why he deserves an opportunity to play and it's the start of something very special for him.”

Earlier Bairstow became left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya's third victim, caught at gully. The wicket ended a 114-run, third-wicket stand for the tourists.

Off-spinner Dom Bess returned career-best figures of 5-30 to help skittle Sri Lanka out for 135 — the lowest first-innings score at the venue — in two sessions on Thursday after the hosts elected to bat.

“Obviously it's been a tough couple of days for us and probably we are a long way behind the game,” Sri Lankan fast bowling Coach David Saker said.

“The best way we can start tomorrow is get these six wickets as quickly as we can. I think the opposition put us in a lot of pressure. I think Joe Root batted very well and the young kid on debut was very good as well.”

The two-match series has resumed after being aborted last March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

SCOREBOARD

Sri Lanka 1st innings 135 (D Chandimal 28; D Bess 5-30,
S Broad 3-20)
England 1st innings (overnight 127-2, J Root 66, J
Bairstow 47)
Z Crawley c Hasaranga b Embuldeniya 9
D Sibley c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 4
J Bairstow c Mendis b Embuldeniya 47
J Root not out 168
D Lawrence c K. Mendis b Perera 73
J Buttler not out 7
Extras (b7, nb5) 12
Total (94 overs, 4 wickets) 320
Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Sibley), 2-17 (Crawley), 3-131
(Bairstow), 4-304 (Lawrence)
To bat: S Curran, D Bess, J Leach, M Wood, S Broad
Bowling: Embuldeniya 38-4-131-3 (nb1), Fernando 8-0-
21-0, Hasaranga 15-1-63-0 (nb2), D Perera 28-2-82-1
(nb2), D Shanaka 5-1-16-0
Toss: Sri Lanka


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