Debutant Foakes stars in England recovery

Published : 12:59 am  November 7, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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Rangana Herath arrives for the opening Test 


By Shehan Daniel reporting from Galle 

Sri Lanka struck twice at the back end of the final session but not before Ben Foakes had helped stage a recovery that helped England end the first day of the first Test at 321 for eight, at the Galle Stadium yesterday. 
Foakes, on debut replacing injured Jonny Bairstow, was unbeaten on 87 having batted with the patience and application that the batsmen before him had lacked, putting up partnerships with Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid each that went past the half century mark. 

While the attention in this Test may squarely be on Rangana Herath, playing his final international match, it was his spin partner Dilruwan Perera who did most of the bowling and the damage, with figures of four for 70 in 28 overs. 
At stumps, there were reasons for both teams to be optimistic ahead of the second day. 

Sri Lanka put themselves within a couple of wickets of bowling out England although they had let the game slip having earlier reduced them to 103 for five, while England would be thankful for the fightback, almost exclusively through the efforts of Foakes, rallying their last three wickets to score 218 runs, and pushing them to a total closer to or beyond 350.

Both teams would also have appreciated the rare full day of cricket in a tour that has been hindered by rain, despite forecasts having indicated possible rain interruptions. 

Despite several of England’s top order batsmen getting starts, it was Foakes, batting at number seven, who got his team’s first half century, after being handed his first taste of international action late in the first session when England lost their fifth wicket, of Ben Stokes, on 103. 

England ended the 29-over first session having added another 10 runs, but the five wickets they had lost on the way there meant that the hosts held the advantage on a pitch that, typical to the Galle wicket on most days, provided some assistance to spinners. 

Foakes’ Surrey teammate, fellow debutant and opener Rory Burns struck two delightful boundaries but an attempted flick only resulted in edging the ball down the leg-side to Niroshan Dickwella. 

Suranga Lakmal then found himself on a hat-trick when he uprooted Moeen Ali’s middle stump attempting a loose shot at a ball angled in at pace on the next ball, but Joe Root negotiated what followed confidently. 

With the same kind of confidence and ease, Root struck five boundaries on the way to 35, before virtually yorked himself out charging Herath and giving him his 100th wicket at this venue, also ending a 62-run partnership with Keaton Jennings. 



Ben Foakes


Perera then removed Jennings deceiving by angle, and Ben Stokes bowled around his legs, both dismissed in the space of 15 deliveries attempting shots of aggression, as England were reduced to 103 for five. 

A more watchful approach after lunch saw England concede just the one wicket in the second session, when Jos Buttler was caught behind for 38, better placed at tea on 199 for six. Foakes struck four boundaries, but relied on rotating the strike as a means for the rest of his runs, getting to his half century in 111 balls. 

He was not without his share of luck though, having been dropped on 60 by Kusal Mendis at short-leg, but there was little chance from thereon, putting himself within 13 runs of a Test century when play resumes today (7).

With Foakes and Curran looking comfortable enough to see out the day, Sri Lanka pulled back two wickets either side of the second new ball, that would have given Sri Lanka a sense of confidence heading. 

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Captain Dinesh Chandimal suffered a groin injury during play yesterday, but has not been ruled out despite being under observation, Sri Lanka Cricket said.