Curran, Buttler push England to competitive score

Published : 12:01 am  November 15, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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 DM-24-1 By Shehan Daniel reporting from Pallekele 

Sri Lanka once again squandered a position of strength allowing England to gain the initiative on the first day of the second Test at the Pallekele International Stadium yesterday. 

On a pitch that was already providing lavish amounts of turn and bounce, which will only appreciate over the course of the next few days, the 285 runs England amassed in their first innings could prove to be a challenging deficit for Sri Lanka to wipe out. At stumps, Sri Lanka were 26 for one, with Dimuth Karunaratne surviving all of the 12 overs that the home team faced yesterday, and remaining unbeaten on 19, while nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara was also at the crease on one. Kaushal Silva was the wicket that was lost, when he was bowled by Jack Leach. 

That Sri Lanka had England on 120 for four, and then later 212 for seven, and still conceded what could prove to be an above par score on this wicket, reflected the lack of intensity and inability to build on momentum. 
Sri Lanka’s bowling successes expectedly revolved around their spin, with Dilruwan Perera once again proving the main contributor with four wickets for 61 runs.   

Left-arm spinner Pushpakumara, a like-for-like replacement for Rangana Herath, had proven to be a workhorse with the ball in hand just like his predecessor, bowling a 22-over first spell spanning sections of the morning and afternoon sessions, ultimately finishing with three for 89.  Akila Dananjaya, who is scheduled to have his bowling action tested after this match, picked up the wicket of Rory Burns and Jack Leach, but had also felt the full force of Sam Curran, who scored five of his six sixes against him. 

It also reflected the depth that England enjoy in their batting, that two of their three best partnerships of the innings came after they had lost seven wickets, with Sam Curran featuring in both those stands before he was the last man out. 

With England on 225 for nine, the situation was tailor made for Curran’s big hitting, and he managed to pull it off to considerable success, scoring seven sixes and a boundary in his 119 ball innings. Curran’s last 46 runs came off 62 balls, and more importantly helped set-up an innings high 60-run partnership with James Anderson for the last wicket – the highest tenth wicket partnership for England in Sri Lanka.But Curran’s heroics, that ended when holed out at long off for 67, was preceded by another rescue act from Jos Buttler, who walked in with England on 65 for three midway through the first session of the game. 

Buttler’s first runs were a sign of things to come in his innings, having got off the mark with a lap-sweep, before making it, along with the conventional and reverse sweeps, a staple in his innings. So dependent was he on sweeping Sri Lanka’s spinners that all seven of his boundaries were scored off one of those variations, along with a majority of his other runs. It helped him counter-attack his way to an eleventh Test half-century in just 50 balls, but also lay the foundation for a 45-run partnership with Moeen Ali for the fifth wicket, with Buttler monopolising a majority of the strike and the runs in that stand. Sri Lanka made inroads and took command once again, when they removed Ali, Ben Foakes and Buttler within the space of 37 runs, but that progress was blown away by Curran, who marshalled the tail, with partnerships of 45 and 60 for the eighth and last wickets respectively.