Fine fielding from Sri Lanka limits England control


Alex Hales and Joe Root contributed 83 and 80 respectively as England made progress towards a healthy total on day one of the second Test with Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street, despite a host of excellent catches from the tourists.

Sri Lanka were trounced in last week's series-opener at Headingley, losing by an innings and 88 runs following two abject batting displays.

It remains to be seen whether Angelo Mathews' men can make a better fist of resisting England's bowlers this time around, but there was certainly much to admire in their fielding on Friday as the hosts, who reached stumps on 310-6, were prevented from seizing control on a placid surface that justified Alastair Cook's decision to bat first under cloudy skies.

Hales and Root shared 96 for the third wicket and each appeared set to reach three figures after Cook (15) and Nick Compton (9) had fallen cheaply during the morning session - the captain dismissed five runs short of 10,000 in Tests.

However, the two set batsmen departed either side of tea, along with James Vince (35), and England also lost the in-form Jonny Bairstow for 48 late in the day, ending a restorative partnership of 70 with Moeen Ali (28 not out).

While the previously assured Root and Bairstow offered up simple chances off Nuwan Pradeep (3-69), Sri Lanka's other breakthroughs all came courtesy of fine work in the field.

Dimuth Karunaratne accepted a tumbling catch at second slip and denied Cook the chance to reach the 10,000-run landmark, before Lakmal - the successful bowler for the first wicket - pulled off a wonderful take, falling backwards at deep square-leg off Pradeep to extend Compton's run of low scores.

England duly moved on to 160-2 as the typically busy Root and Hales prospered, but the latter - spilled by Karunaratne on 75 - fell victim to another superb catch as Mathews dived to his right at slip in the first over from recalled all-rounder Milinda Siriwardana (2-35).

That wicket ensured Hales fell in the 80s for a second successive innings and Root endured similar frustration when he unexpectedly spooned a back-of-a-length delivery to cover.

Only eight runs were added prior to Vince giving his wicket away with a loose stroke into the off side off Siriwardana that was punished by a diving catch from Lahiru Thirimanne.

Bairstow once again appeared at the top of his game, having compiled a masterful 140 in Leeds last week, but the wicketkeeper-batsman edged Pradeep behind with 3.4 overs remaining in the day, leaving Chris Woakes - England's replacement for the injured Ben Stokes - to accompany Moeen to the close.