Jennings helps set up record target for Sri Lanka

Published : 12:11 am  November 9, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Shehan Daniel reporting from Galle 

Keaton Jennings’ second Test century yesterday did more than just drive Sri Lanka into the ground, it also left them needing a record-breaking effort to beat England in the first Test at the Galle Stadium. 
Sri Lanka will better the 418 for seven the West Indies scored against Australia if they do successfully win this Test. 

On a wicket that supported spin but by no means to the extent that made batting impossible, Jennings masterfully set himself in and carried his bat right through his team’s second innings, to finish unbeaten on a career-best 146. 
It was also an innings of relief for Jennings who had not scored a century since scoring his maiden hundred on debut against India in 2016.

Untitled-10After England Captain Joe Root decided that the 471-run lead they had amassed was likely beyond the reach of the Sri Lankans, he declared his team’s second innings, leaving the hosts with seven overs to negotiate before stumps. 
Sri Lanka did so, scoring 15 runs without losing either openers Dimuth Karunaratne (7) and Kaushal Silva (8). 

That Jennings’ 280-ball innings came only after Sri Lanka had faltered to 203 in their first essay, batting with the lack of conviction and control that the English opener showed, like Ben Foakes earlier in the Test, would certainly sting the home team, who now face an uphill-bordering-on-impossible task to save let alone win this Test. 

To say that it was a lone effort would not do justice to Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Foakes, who all fattened the lead and contributed to England’s declaration yesterday. 

Stokes in particular showed an appetite for quick runs, scoring three sixes off Akila Dananjaya’s bowling before being beaten by a ball from Dilruwan Perera that turned sharply into him, 11 balls after he had made his 15th Test half century. 

There were however few signs of aggression from Jennings who scored nine boundaries in his innings, having worked out, much like Foakes had earlier in the Test, on how best to negate the Sri Lankan spin threat – a solid defence his baseline – that at times did threaten but failed to breakthrough. 

The one real chance that came Sri Lanka’s way to end Jennings’ innings came shortly before the lunch break when a leg-before wicket appeal was turned down. 

Stand-in Captain Suranga Lakmal chose not to challenge the on-field decision but replays suggested that had they done so, Jennings would have not made more than 58. 

Sri Lanka’s spinners bowled, or toiled rather, sending down all but six of the overs England batted yesterday, with little success.

But the hosts were already so far behind in the game that even a good first session, that saw them remove three of Jennings’ partners, was not enough to change the tide of the game. 

Instead, England went into lunch having extended their lead by 73, to 250 in all, with Jennings passing the 50-run mark for the first time since his debut series in India in 2016. 

Jennings remained resolute despite seeing his overnight partner Rory Burns running himself out and Moeen Ali adding his name to the long list of batsman who let themselves down in this Test, when he holed out to mid-on for three.  Captain Joe Root was beaten by some trademark Rangana Herath misdirection, but that was the last success Sri Lanka would enjoy for some time, as England furthered their hopes of a first win in Galle by extending their lead. 

After breaking the Jennings-Stokes partnership, Buttler was next in line to hurt the hosts, scoring 35 off 58, before he was brilliantly caught by Kaushal Silva at silly point. 

That proved to be the last wicket for Herath, who ended his Test career with 433 wickets, the second highest among bowlers produced by Sri Lanka, and eighth among all bowlers. 

Foakes, who scored at more than a run-a-ball was caught by Kusal Mendis on the boundary, for 37.