Skilful Joe Root sets up fascinating Test after James Anderson's excellent six-wicket haul

Telegraph Sport
·45 min read
Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root  - ECB Twitter
Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root - ECB Twitter

England were once again looking to Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow after Sri Lanka defied James Anderson's best efforts on another hard-fought day at the second Test at Galle.

The hosts posted a challenging 381 in their first innings, with Anderson raising his own bar at the grand old age of 38 with career-best figures of six for 40 in Asian conditions.

England then slipped to five for two, before Root reeled off a fluent half-century to follow last week's double hundred, ably backed by his fellow Yorkshireman as they added 93 without further loss.

Anderson's masterful six for 40 was the standout bowling performance as all 10 home wickets fell to pace, the first time that has happened on this island in two decades and, while that was a feather in the cap of the English seamers, it was also an awkward statistic for spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess. Between them the duo sent down 64 overs for 195 as they failed to make any kind of impression on proceedings.

The notion that the pitch was simply too flat or too unresponsive to work with was soon put bed as slow left-armer Lasith Embuldeniya continued his complete dominance of openers Dom Sibley (nought) and Zak Crawley (five). He has now accounted for both men in single figures on all six occasions this series, placing a hefty workload on the middle order.

Luckily for England, Root's stylish array of sweeps saw him race to 67 not and Bairstow continued his impressive return to the Test arena with an unbeaten 24.

Sri Lanka had started on 229 for four but saw their platform eroded almost immediately as Anderson and centurion Angelo Mathews, the two key figures from Friday's play, faced off again.

With the second new ball still hard Anderson had the tools to conjure some seam movement off the pitch and leapt up for caught behind as his sixth delivery of the morning flicked something on the way through. The shout was waved away, but a clearly dubious Root was persuaded to take a second look with DRS.

A tiny spike showed up on UltraEdge leaving Mathews (110) looking aggrieved and England overjoyed. Debutant Ramesh Mendis was unable to wipe away their smiles, gone for a seven-ball duck as he flicked Mark Wood off his pads and Jos Buttler flung himself into a fine catch.

At that point a sub-300 total still looked possible, but Niroshan Dickwella would not allow it. He drove well against pace and looked far too assured to let either Bess or Leach cut him short, sweeping and pulling them nicely.

The wicketkeeper passed fifty for the 16th time before lunch and moved past his career best of 83 afterwards, seemingly dead set on a maiden hundred.

But England hatched a fresh plan and, to no great surprise, it hinged on Anderson's application. Angling the ball across the left-hander with a ring of catchers on the off-side, he drew Dickwella into a rash drive on 92, with Leach plucking it well at mid-off.

Suranga Lakmal turned Anderson's 30th five-for into a six, flashing hard to gully two balls later. Dilruwan Perera (67) added another 49 with numbers 10 and 11, but Wood and Sam Curran chipped away to end the innings after 140 long overs.

The ineffectiveness of spin in the first innings was cast into sharp relief as soon as Embuldeniya began to work his magic. He was all over England's openers in the first Test and the same pattern unfolded again with grim inevitability.

He did not concede a single run from his first 19 deliveries, in which time he had Sibley bang to rights, lbw for nought, and Crawley held at slip for five. Sibley was spooked by turn then undone by one that kicked straight on, while Crawley nicked one that drifted and gripped.

Coming together on five for two, Root and Bairstow show their top-order colleagues how it was done. Root was quick to crunch an early sweep for four and would once again lean on the shot that worked wonders for him last time around.

There were fine sweeps, slog sweeps and reverse sweeps, all of which brought him boundaries and eased him along to a 65-ball fifty. Twice he hit three fours in an over, Mendis and Embuldeniya both on the receiving end, and overtook fellow Yorkshireman Sir Geoffrey Boycott in sixth place on England's Test runs chart.

Bairstow attacked sparingly but effectively and just survived Perera's lbw appeal on umpire's call as he played his part in a 93-run partnership.

12:02 PM

CLOSE OF PLAY: England 98/2

A wonderful batting display from Root means it is very even as the players walk off at the end of day two in Galle. Sri Lanka will be happy with their first-innings total, but the England captain has ensured this match is tantalisingly poised after both opening batsmen had fallen very early. An intriguing contest.

12:00 PM

OVER 30: ENG 98/2 (Root 67* Bairstow 24*)

Bairstow is in no hurry here against Embuldeniya, taking plenty of time between deliveries. All sorts of things popping up behind the bowler's arm... apparently. Sri Lanka have another lbw appeal turned down, with the ball going down the leg side and Bairstow blocks out the over. That will be that.

11:57 AM

OVER 29: ENG 98/2 (Root 67* Bairstow 24*)

Just one nudged single off what may turn out to be the penultimate over of the day. Or there might be time for two more depending on how quickly/slowly things happens.

11:53 AM

OVER 28: ENG 97/2 (Root 67* Bairstow 23*)

Root sweeps Embuldeniya = four more runs. Root reverse-sweeps Embuldeniya = four more runs. Root rocks back and cuts Embuldeniya = four more runs. This is pure class. He spots the length so quickly and reacts accordingly. Excellent batting.

11:48 AM

OVER 27: ENG 83/2 (Root 53* Bairstow 23*)

We will end the day with spin from both ends as Perera returns and there's immediately a long chat about whether to review an lbw shout off Root, which the umpire turned down. It struck him on the pad as he attempted a sweep shot, but Sri Lanka decide against getting DRS involved. Correct decision.

It's then followed by a much, much bigger appeal as Bairstow is hit on the pad after going back in his crease. Again the umpire shakes his head, but this looked much closer and Sri Lanka do decide to review. Had it turned too much? Was it hitting, clipping or missing leg stump? The verdict is: Umpire's Call. But my word that was close. About a millimetre away from being overturned because a fair amount of ball was shown to be hitting leg stump, but the on-field decision remains.

11:41 AM

OVER 26: ENG 80/2 (Root 51* Bairstow 22*)

The wickettaker Embuldeniya returns to the attack for a final tweak before close... but he begins with a horrible full toss that allows Root to tuck into the leg side and raise his bat for a fine half-century. That's the 50th 50 of his Test career and how England needed it from 5/2.

11:38 AM

OVER 25: ENG 77/2 (Root 48* Bairstow 22*)

My copy and paste function is getting plenty of use today given the number of sweep shots Root is playing to the Sri Lankan spinners. One brings two runs, one finds the fielder, and a reverse-sweep then rockets away to the boundary. Impeccable technique shown so far from him today.

11:34 AM

OVER 24: ENG 70/2 (Root 41* Bairstow 22*)

Just the one scampered single off Fernando's over.

Plenty of chat on the Sky Sports commentary about Bairstow being rested from the first two Tests of the upcoming India tour. On that subject, please allow me to point Simon Heffer's column your way: How to save Test cricket? Ban anyone who plays a white-ball match from red-ball cricket for a year. It's... erm... certainly one take on the situation. Here's a snippet:

The time must now be approaching for the ECB to consider separating the codes of first-class (including Test) and one-day cricket. Indeed, doing so may be the only way to preserve the former and give it any credibility. No player should be prevented from just playing limited-overs cricket for England, his county, or as a mercenary for a side in India or elsewhere: but if he does, he should be made to register as a one-day player and could not alter that registration until 12 months later. This would stop the drive towards England putting out what will increasingly come to look like a second XI to represent it in Test matches

11:29 AM

OVER 23: ENG 69/2 (Root 40* Bairstow 22*)

That's lovely from Bairstow. He takes a risk against Perera, trotting down the track off the first ball of the over and lifting him straight back over the bowler's head for four. As we near the final half-hour, these two are doing precisely what England needed after those early wickets.

11:24 AM

OVER 22: ENG 63/2 (Root 40* Bairstow 18*)

With this partnership blossoming, Sri Lanka decide to change things up and give Fernando the ball again - at least Root can't sweep him. There's an lbw shout as Root is hit on the thigh pad, but that's not even close. A decent maiden though, with the England captain forced to defend stoutly.

11:18 AM

OVER 21: ENG 63/2 (Root 40* Bairstow 18*)

The sweeps continue from both batsmen and the whole feel has changed since Embuldeniya came out of the attack. There is some action later in the over though as Sri Lanka ask the lbw question when Root kicks the ball away outside off stump to Perera. He had no intention of playing a shot but there's no way the umpire could give that out given how wide it was. However, Sri Lanka gamble by opting for the review, which says... missing significantly. Only DRS could have ever given that out - no umpire in the world would have put their finger up.

11:12 AM

OVER 20: ENG 60/2 (Root 38* Bairstow 17*)

Another Root sweep to Mendis yields a boundary. And another two balls later - this one much, much finer but the result is the same. And then a reverse-sweep to finish things off. Three boundaries from three different sweeps. That is superbly skilled batting from England's captain.

11:07 AM

OVER 19: ENG 47/2 (Root 25* Bairstow 17*)

Bairstow doesn't seem to be enjoying Perera so far. Another big attempted drive fails to connect as ball beats bat with Perera sticking steadfast to an outside-off-stump line. But that does allow Bairstow to pre-meditate a sweep, which he does later in the over, drilling the ball behind square for four.

11:04 AM

OVER 18: ENG 43/2 (Root 25* Bairstow 13*)

Another change of bowling and another spinner into the attack with Mendis replacing Embuldeniya. These Sri Lankan spinners are generating far more turn than Bess and Leach managed, but Root is back on the sweep and connects perfectly to rattle the ball along the floow all the way to the boundary rope. Steady accumulation here from these two batsmen.

11:00 AM

OVER 17: ENG 37/2 (Root 20* Bairstow 12*)

It is indeed time for more spin as Perera is thrown the ball. And he immediately beats Bairstow with his first two deliveries. And then again. And again. All sorts of excitement behind the stumps with some balls turning sharply and others continuing with the drfit. A fine start. Excellent maiden.

10:53 AM

OVER 16: ENG 37/2 (Root 20* Bairstow 12*)

Now it's Bairstow's turn to get down on the sweep to Embuldeniya. The result is one run. These two batsmen are playing the left-arm spinner far better.

10:49 AM

OVER 15: ENG 35/2 (Root 19* Bairstow 11*)

Fernando sends one drifting down leg side to Root, allowing the England captain to tickle it on its way for four. "I think that was catchable," says Bumble on commentary, which is an unbelievably harsh call given the keeper was diving full stretch down leg. Let's just say it didn't deserve a wicket. Root then misses out on a wide full toss, which he creams straight to the cover fielder. I wouldn't be surprised if we see spin from both ends shortly.

10:44 AM

OVER 14: ENG 28/2 (Root 13* Bairstow 10*)

Root is looking to be proactive against Embuldeniya, chopping down for two through third man and then sweeping - but not middling - to square leg for one.

10:41 AM

OVER 13: ENG 25/2 (Root 10* Bairstow 10*)

Low 80s from Fernando and Bairstow rides a touch of bounce nicely to punch the ball behind square on the off side, beating point for four.

10:36 AM

OVER 12: ENG 21/2 (Root 10* Bairstow 6*)

Ooh, Bairstow is a lucky boy here as he tries to work Embuldeniya through mid-wicket against the spin and instead gets a leading edge that loops just past the bowler. It's the angle into the batsman from the left-arm spinner than is creating so many problems. It's not turning square, but just enough find the edge after angling the ball in. Root then picks up two from a sweep.

10:32 AM

OVER 11: ENG 18/2 (Root 8* Bairstow 5*)

That is indeed the end of Lakmal's spell, but we will have more seam as Fernando is brought into the attack. The result is rather the same as his fellow pace bowler: gentle, slow swing, few runs, and even fewer concerns for the batsmen.

10:26 AM

OVER 10: ENG 18/2 (Root 8* Bairstow 5*)

It's eye-opening how much more assured Root looks against Embuldeniya than the two departed batsmen. He is either a) all the way back deep in his crease, b) well forward to smother the turn, or c) down on knee sweeping hard. The third of those options produces a lovely boundary, pumped through mid-wicket.

10:24 AM

OVER 9: ENG 13/2 (Root 3* Bairstow 5*)

Not sure I'd bother with much more Lakmal given the lack of threat he is currently posing and the terror being wreaked by the spinner at the other end. There is swing, but it's all so gentle, and Bairstow is able to work the ball off his pads and behind square on the leg side for four easy runs.

10:18 AM

OVER 8: ENG 8/2 (Root 2* Bairstow 1*)

Having watched England's spinners fail to take a wicket in almost two full days, Embuldeniya takes his first two before conceding a single run. The England opening batsmen just have no answer to him - six times they have batted this series and six times Embuldeniya has dismissed them for a single-figure score.

10:15 AM

WICKET! Crawley c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 5

Ebuldeniya is tearing England to pieces. This is bread and butter for a left-armer spinner, beautifully angled into the batsman, forcing him to play and then just turning enough after pitching to take the outside edge on the way through to slip. FOW 5/2

10:12 AM

OVER 7: ENG 5/1 (Crawley 5* Bairstow 0*)

After news that he will be rested for the first two Tests in the upcoming series against India, it would be peak Jonny Bairstow to go big here. Crawley is on strike to Lakmal and he repeats his pull from outside off from a couple of overs ago, although the result this time is just one run.

10:07 AM

OVER 6: ENG 4/1 (Crawley 4* Bairstow 0*)

England's spinners went 64 overs without a wicket; Sri Lanka required just 14 balls. And Embuldeniya then starts ripping the ball to Bairstow, finding the outside edge from the final delivery of the over. Fine spin bowling.

10:04 AM

WICKET! Sibley lbw Embuldeniya 0

Huge, huge shout. And up goes the finger. Sibley went right back to a slider from Embuldeniya and was struck bang on the knee roll. The only question is whether the ball was clipping or missing leg stump. England opt for the review and the verdict is... neither: it was smashing into middle and leg. FOW 4/1

10:01 AM

OVER 5: ENG 4/0 (Crawley 4* Sibley 0*)

Well, that's some way to get off the mark. Finally fed up of leaving the ball, Crawley decides to pull beautifully from well outside off through mid-wicket for four. "That's Michael Vaughan," says Bumble on commentary and he's not wrong. Crawley stood tall and played it just like the former England captain and now Telegraph Sport columnist.

09:57 AM

OVER 4: ENG 0/0 (Crawley 0* Sibley 0*)

Minimal width to work with from Embuldeniya and Sibley is forced on the defensive again. He does so with purpose though and there's no alarm in this fourth consecutive maiden. Embuldeniya is getting more purchase from the pitch than the England spinners did.

09:54 AM

OVER 3: ENG 0/0 (Crawley 0* Sibley 0*)

Outside off from Lakmal and left by Crawley. And again. And repeat. It's not bad bowling from Lakmal, but his eighth-stump line would be much improved if it was fifth or sixth as Crawley would be forced to play at them. England are still yet to score.

09:51 AM

OVER 2: ENG 0/0 (Crawley 0* Sibley 0*)

It will be spin to share the new ball from the other end courtesy of left-armer Embuldeniya. No great rip, no great concern for Sibley, and no runs again.

09:47 AM

OVER 1: ENG 0/0 (Crawley 0* Sibley 0*)

Here we go then. The final session of a day that will likely be curtailed by gloomy light at some point in the next couple of hours. England need to lose no more than a wicket or two you would think. Lakmal kicks things off to Crawley: gentle pace, gentle swing, easily left alone and a maiden.

09:28 AM

Have a read of this at the break

09:27 AM

TEA: Sri Lanka 381 all out

England finally finish things off. Anderson leads the team off after a quite superb display of seam bowling. All 10 wickets fell to pace - the first time that has happened in Sri Lanka for 27 years. But the hosts will be perfectly happy at this tea break with runs on the board and plenty of them after some fine batting from Dickwella and Perera today. Back shortly.

09:25 AM

WICKET! Perera c Leach b Curran 67

"Have a bit of THAT," says Perera as he crashes a Curran full toss straight back over the umpire's head for a brutal boundary. But those will be the final runs scored as Leach then holds an excellent catch at deep square-leg after Perera takes the short ball on. FOW 381/10

09:21 AM

OVER 139: SL 377/9 (Perera 63* Fernando 0*)

Wood just isn't getting any chance to hunt down Fernando, with Perera continuing to farm the strike off the quickest bowler on display. No boundaries on this occasion, or indeed any runs at all until the simplest of singles off the final ball to get down the business end for the next over. All. So. Easy.

09:15 AM

OVER 138: SL 376/9 (Perera 62* Fernando 0*)

Curran finds Perera's edge, but the result is a single as the slip cordon is non-existent at this stage to the set batsman. It does allow two balls at Fernando though, but the No 11 survives without trouble. England must be getting rather frustrated now. Fernando is dead-batting with ease.

09:11 AM

OVER 137: SL 375/9 (Perera 61* Fernando 0*)

Perera smears a Wood bumper into the leg side but declines to take the single and expose his team-mate. Two balls later it all happens again. Wood then changes things up with the yorker and Perera simply opens the face to guide it through third man for four. Neatly done. And he even manages a single off the last delivery to keep the strike. It should now be tea but an extra half-hour can be taken for England to take this final wicket.

09:05 AM

OVER 136: SL 369/9 (Perera 56* Fernando 0*)

In fact it won't be Bess because Curran is back into the attack, which increases the chance of England seamers taking all 10 wickets in this innings. He needs to target the stumps and make Fernando play though. Wide outside off, wide outside off, wide outside off, narrowly outside off, on off, narrowly outside off. All left or defended with ease. Maiden.

09:00 AM

OVER 135: SL 369/9 (Perera 56* Fernando 0*)

Poor from Wood, full and on Perera's legs, which allows a man with his eye in to pick it up and beat three leg-side boundary riders with a flick for four. That then prompts a cat and mouse game with some short stuff as Wood follows Perera around the crease. He fails to find another single, which leaves Fernando on strike to Bess next over.

08:55 AM

OVER 134: SL 365/9 (Perera 52* Fernando 0*)

Time for some shots from Perera now to Bess? Well, he'll have to do so from well outside leg stump where Bess is intent on hiding the ball from round the wicket. Down the wicket comes the batsman before lashing the ball back down the ground... and he's dropped by the bowler! That was leathered at some pace to Bess, who got a hand to it between his legs but could not cling on. A very difficult chance. And painful.

Apparently, the last time all 10 wickets fell to seamers in Sri Lanka was 1994, when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis cleaned up for Pakistan. One away for England.

08:52 AM

OVER 133: SL 364/9 (Perera 51* Fernando 0*)

Just as the partnership was creeping up to the hour-mark and threatening to anger England, the breakthrough comes. A ninth wicket... and all nine of them to Anderson and Wood.

08:49 AM

WICKET! Embuldeniya c Root b Wood 7

Another wicket falls to seam. Just back of a length from Wood, which squares Embuldeniya up and takes the outside edge for Root to take a routine catch at first slip. FOW 364/9

08:44 AM

OVER 132: SL 363/8 (Perera 50* Embuldeniya 7*)

Bess comes on for Leach and rapidly gets through a maiden to Embuldeniya, all plonked on a spot just outside off stump.

08:41 AM

OVER 131: SL 363/8 (Perera 50* Embuldeniya 7*)

Perera begins this Wood over by jabbing his bat down on a lovely 90mph yorker and then stands his ground as leg gully takes a catch and England ask the question, only to be told the ball came off the batsman's thigh pad rather than bat. He then flicks beautifully off his pads for four through square-leg to bring up a very handy half-century. Wood is running in hard and bending his back, but no joy in this spell so far.

08:35 AM

OVER 130: SL 359/8 (Perera 46* Embuldeniya 7*)

Three singles and no threat at all from this Leach over.

08:31 AM

OVER 129: SL 356/8 (Perera 44* Embuldeniya 6*)

That six from Embuldeniya was his first in Test cricket. In fact, his Test career batting average (only nine matches) is less than the sum of that one shot. Wood continues to operate in the high 80s and is clipped by Perera through mid-wicket for a couple. A single gives Wood a couple of cracks at Embuldeniya but, despite a hefty whack on the shoulder after ducking into a bouncer, he survives. Ouch.

08:25 AM

OVER 128: SL 353/8 (Perera 41* Embuldeniya 6*)

Oh hello! A slog sweep from Embuldeniya to Leach sails all the way over the boundary rope for six and is some way to get off the mark. It also pushes Sri Lanka beyond 350, which could be rather dangerous given the spin options they have as this pitch starts to deterioriate.

08:20 AM

OVER 127: SL 346/8 (Perera 40* Embuldeniya 0)

Hello folks. Drinks have been taken and Anderson's excellent spell comes to an end, with the ball tossed to Wood to have a crack at finishing things off. He's up against Embuldeniya and opts for a mix of bumpers and yorkers, all of which the tailender survives despite wafting and missing at one of the full ones. A touch of reverse swing perhaps. Maiden.

I found this graph (from Ed Bayliss, a former cricket team-mate of mine and now a cricket analyst) fascinating:

08:13 AM

OVER 126: SL 346/8 (Perera 40* Embuldeniya 0)

Leach to Perera.. six dot balls and that makes a maiden and that's drinks. That is me done for the day and I'll hand over to Ben Bloom to take you through the rest of the day.

08:10 AM

OVER 125: SL 346/8 (Perera 40* Embuldeniya 0)

Anderson trying to tempt Embuldeniya, who has a slash at the last ball of the over. A single to Perera moves him into the 40s. He's batted well. Trying to go through the gears at the moment.

08:05 AM

OVER 124: SL 345/8 (Perera 39* Embuldeniya 0)

Perera gets down on one knee and is sweeps Leach for four. He's batting with intent now and Leach is definitely the one to target here. England bring in a couple of close fielders on the leg side.

08:02 AM

OVER 123: SL 340/8 (Perera 34* Embuldeniya 0)

Not sure Anderson is there to be hit, however. Perera's role will change here. From willing supporting role to... what? We'll see. Embuldeniya has a highest first-class score of 24 from 49 innings. Bess fields a ball at square leg and takes a while to get up, looks like he's hurt his back. He's not gone off the field, though.

07:57 AM

OVER 122: SL 339/8 (Perera 33* Embuldeniya 0)

Leach continues and it's a biiig six from Perera! Another single takes him to 33. Wonder if these two will try and tee off now. Probably.

07:54 AM

OVER 121: SL 332/8 (Perera 26* Embuldeniya 0)

A double wicket maiden for James Anderson. Nice work. Definitely should have been brought on before lunch.

07:53 AM

WICKET! Lakmal b Anderson c Crawley 0

That is... not the shot to play to a decent Anderson ball second ball, a loose one with loose hands and it flies to gulley, where Crawley takes a sharp catch. Lakmal gone for a duck. Six wickets for Anderson now!

FOW 332/8

07:51 AM

Telegraph Sport's Tim Wigmore on another (his 30th) five-wicket haul for Jimmy Anderson in Tests

07:49 AM

WICKET! Dickwella b Anderson c Leach 92

This was not a great ball and it was not a great shot. It was fullish and wide, and Dickwella slapped it to wide mid off, where Leach dives to his right and takes an excellent two-handed catch. Not a stunner, but a 7/10 one that he made look easy. Definitely changed his tactics in recent overs. He'll be gutted at that. Five for James Anderson.

FOW 332/7

07:46 AM

OVER 120: SL 332/6 (Dickwella 92* Perera 26*)

Five off Leach's latest, a single and then Perera guiding him through gulley for four runs. 26 off 102 for him now and he's looking a very fine supporting partner to Dickwella.

07:45 AM

OVER 119: SL 327/6 (Dickwella 91* Perera 22*)

Dickwella moves into the 90s for the first time in his Test career with a well-run three. Anderson not at all happy about that. They've just shown a replay for Leach's delivery to Perera which they decided not to review.. and it's not even a spike on UltraEdge, but something registers. Not 100 per cent sure it was ball on bat, would need to see it again. And I have and I think it could be bat on pad. Hard to say.

07:40 AM

OVER 118: SL 324/6 (Dickwella 88* Perera 22*)

Leach gets one to spin a bit more and he thinks it's taken the outside edge of Perera. Buttler, who collected in his gloves, seemed sure, too. England don't review in the end, but something is happening at last. Just kicked up a bit of dust off the top, too.

07:35 AM

OVER 117: SL 323/6 (Dickwella 87* Perera 22*)

Just a single off Anderson's latest.

07:29 AM

OVER 116: SL 322/6 (Dickwella 86* Perera 22*)

Three off that more eventful Leach over. Don't think Dickwella is far away from playing a few shots and racing to his hundred, but I could be wrong.

07:26 AM

ENG REVIEW - NOT SUCCESSFUL

A bit of cramp, it seems for Dickwella. He attempted a few stretches between overs and the physio is on to help out as he is on his back on the ground. He's back on his feet and ready.

Leach thinks he's trapped Perera LBW but this looks optimistic in the extreme. Umpire says no, England review. Not much going for this... I mean, it's pitching about six inches outside leg stump before anything else. Silly review.

07:22 AM

OVER 115: SL 319/6 (Dickwella 84* Perera 21*)

James Anderson to come on for a second spell of the day. I'd have had him on for an over or two before lunch. Dickwella guides an edge to the third man boundary... four runs! That puts him onto his equal highest ever Test score. Nice shot, played with very soft hands. Dickwella drives on the off side just forward of point for an easy single and that moves him to 84 and his best ever score in Tests. Nice work, he's batted very well.

07:17 AM

OVER 114: SL 314/6 (Dickwella 79* Perera 21*)

There's a small amount of turn off the pitch but it's fairly minimal. It's nothing really to worry for the batsmen at the moment. Bounce is fairly normal and even. Just a single to Dickwella who moves to within one run of the 80s. Or in other words: 79.

07:15 AM

Jack Leach to resume after lunch

Here we go.

06:36 AM

LUNCH: SL 313/6 (Dickwella 78* Perera 21*)

Curran continues with the short stuff before lunch. And the over ends with just a single to Dickwella, who was very well controlled until he decided to take on Sam Curran's short ball just before tea. Good session for Sri Lanka all in all but it could have been worse for England. Not much in it for anyone, really. Two quick wickets for Anderson and then Wood but Sri Lanka fought back with a 70-run unbroken partnership to go into lunch in a good position.

06:30 AM

OVER 112: SL 312/6 (Dickwella 77* Perera 21*)

Perera has quietly got to 20 off nearly 70 just accumulating runs and supporting Dickwella. He gets into a bit of trouble going back to a full ball from leach, chopping down on the ball which nearly runs into the stumps. Two runs from Leach's latest. Should be another over before luncheon.

06:27 AM

Well, this tickled me

06:26 AM

OVER 111: SL 310/6 (Dickwella 76* Perera 20*)

Curran is round the wicket to the left-handed Dickwella and cramps him for room a bit with a short ball, he tries to pull and it pops up in the air off a top edge but it safe. Dickwella takes on the short ball again and top edges again but it's over Buttler's heads and down to the long stop boundary for four. Definitely a round-the-wicket-short-ball ploy from England here. Is it working? Well... the overall result is good for Sri Lanka but it'll have England hopeful.

Short ball to end the over, Dickwella tries to take it on but misses, the ball striking him in the midriff. Hmmmm. A bit of action. He's finally getting the shots out of his locker, though.

06:21 AM

OVER 110: SL 302/6 (Dickwella 68* Perera 20*)

James Anderson's economy rate is 1.26. Everyone else is between 3 and 3.29. Sri Lanka certainly haven't gotten away from England but they are slowly but surely increasing the distance. A big total is not guaranteed but if they play well 450+ could be on the cards.

06:18 AM

OVER 109: SL 301/6 (Dickwella 67* Perera 20*)

No Anderson yet, but Sam Curran is back on now. Hoping to take his first wicket. Can't say I am that optimistic but that could just be the 3am alarm I had to set and the fact that I was up an hour earlier due to some very noisy neighbours. Not quite the early morning serenity I had been hoping for. Instead I've had the hits from Mika, Nelly Furtado and many others. Just a single to Dickwella off Curran's first over back.

06:13 AM

OVER 108: SL 300/6 (Dickwella 66* Perera 20*)

Milked. A single for Perera brings up the 300 off 201 balls. England started the day brightly with two quick wickets, as happened yesterday, but the pattern is starting to repeat. A difficult second hour for them so far.

06:09 AM

Not much in it for the twirlymen

Not at all.

06:08 AM

OVER 107: SL 298/6 (Dickwella 65* Perera 19*)

Dickwella pounces on a wide one from Bess to thrash it towards the cover boundary. It's fielded but that will be the 50 partnership off 87 balls. Dickwella picks one up outside off – quite far outside off actually – and slog sweeps hard for four towards midwicket. Great shot but there's neither danger nor pressure from these two spinners. Six off that one...

06:05 AM

OVER 106: SL 292/6 (Dickwella 60* Perera 18*)

This partnership is approaching the 50 mark. Perera approaching 50 balls faced of his own innings. Pitch means it's still a struggle to even have the bowlers hint at danger. Perera lofts it over extra cover, over the heads of two fielders there who have no chance of catching it. Absolutely no danger from either spinner here. Time for James Anderson again, I reckon. Quick burst either side of lunch.

06:00 AM

OVER 105: SL 289/6 (Dickwella 59* Perera 16*)

That's a chance? Nearly... Dickwella goes for a slog sweep but he top edges it towards deep square leg, Jack Leach runs in but doesn't make it and can't stop an extra run, either as it spins past him. False shot, though, and more out of character with this innings.

05:57 AM

OVER 104: SL 286/6 (Dickwella 56* Perera 16*)

Perera dances down the wicket to Leach again and pops him right over his head back to the boundary with one bounce. He's 0-78 off 24.2 overs which is... not great. No need to be too harsh on him with only two first-class matches played last year but it's the reality that both spinners have struggled here. Six runs from that over.

05:54 AM

Dickwella impressive but controlled

05:53 AM

OVER 103: SL 280/6 (Dickwella 55* Perera 11*)

A misfield at midwicket by Dan Lawrence gives Perera a single where it shouldn't have been. A bit too casual there, didn't get down enough and missed it with one hand. Dickwella down on one knee slog sweeps powerfully through to the deep midwicket boundary. Very well hit. Not sure there was much pressure released there but the runs had dried up in the most recent few overs.

05:49 AM

OVER 102: SL 274/6 (Dickwella 50* Perera 10*)

Slightly better from Leach, bowling with just a slip close in. Still think he's perhaps bowling a little too straight but much straighter and there's so little turn that the right-hander can drive with relative confidence. A maiden.

05:45 AM

OVER 101: SL 274/6 (Dickwella 50* Perera 10*)

A rank long hop from Bess is pulled away by Perera but it finds the fielder. Still a single moves him to double figures. His final ball is where he needs to be bowling more often, though arguably a little wider. Only a single from the over, which is better. Wonder if we'll get Anderson again before lunch. I'd imagine another three overs before the interval would be wise.

05:42 AM

OVER 100: SL 273/6 (Dickwella 50* Perera 9*)

Jack Leach into the attack and he's "attacked' straight away as Perera lofts it over mid on to the long on boundary for four. A little shimmy down the pitch to get the pitch of the ball and well connected. Not a swipe but fairly well controlled shot. Not the best first over from Leach. Still time to settle in. 100 overs done, 273 runs scored. SL have not exactly raced through this innings, but steady. Spin from both ends now – but for how long?

05:37 AM

OVER 99: SL 266/6 (Dickwella 50* Perera 2*)

After that drinks break Dom Bess continues. Starts with a rank full toss which is pushed for a single by Dickwella which moves him to 50. He's played well. His 16th in 41 Tests – no hundreds yet, though. A good chance here if he has the support. Perera takes a comfortable single off the final ball to double his score.

05:31 AM

OVER 98: SL 264/6 (Dickwella 49* Perera 1*)

Mark Wood continues but not sure how many more overs he'll have in him. Still bowling with decent pace as he has all series. His pace is something that can make batsmen a little uncomfortable on any pitch. Two to Dickwella moves him to 44 and a no ball from Mark Wood moves SL to 259. Too straight from Wood next ball and Perera glances it down to the fine leg boundary for four. Slightly expensive over for Wood.

05:24 AM

OVER 97: SL 256/6 (Dickwella 42* Perera 1*)

We will see some spin, Dom Bess replaces James Anderson. No great shakes yesterday, though not much in the pitch for him. First ball is easily slapped away through point for a single and it was... well, quite a loose delivery. Second ball isn't much better, a straight full toss that is patted back to him by Perera. He's off the mark with a nudge through square leg for a single. Bess gets his radar a bit more on target towards the end of the over.

05:20 AM

OVER 96: SL 253/6 (Dickwella 40* Perera 0*)

Wood's speeds this over are all over 88mph in the first four balls. Drops a bit in the final two balls and, honestly, he looks a little like he's feeling it. Wonder if we'll see some spin shortly. A maiden, anyway. Perera not off the mark after 12 balls. Mathews going along nicely with 40 off 85.

05:16 AM

OVER 95: SL 253/6 (Dickwella 40* Perera 0*)

A rare boundary off Anderson's bowling as Dickwella drives through the covers for an exquisite four. A bit of debate on Sky Sports from David Lloyd and Mahela Jayawardene over whether Mathews hit it. They both question UltraEdge's spike being that of bat and ball, saying it arrived too early. Here's the still. Make your own mind up. I can see what they mean but... no. I just don't think it's possible to sync the audio up the the exact frame and that may be the issue.

Dickwella ultraedge still - Sky Sports Cricket
Dickwella ultraedge still - Sky Sports Cricket

05:11 AM

Speaking of the absent spinners

05:10 AM

OVER 94: SL 249/6 (Dickwella 36* Perera 0*)

Wood a bit too full and too wide makes it easier for Dickwell to hit. He had to make the shot, though, and he strokes it through extra cover for four runs. Going along nicely is the keeper. No England bowler able to exert the control of Anderson. You don't mind that from Wood but you need it from your spinners. They have yet to feature this morning.

05:05 AM

OVER 93: SL 244/6 (Dickwella 31* Perera 0*)

This hasn't exactly turned the game on its head but it has changed the outlook for England. There will now be hope that they can dismiss Sri Lanka for not a great deal more than 300, certainly under 350. Anderson concedes his first run of the day to Dickwella. 4-25 off 22 with 12 maidens for him now.

05:01 AM

OVER 92: SL 243/6 (Dickwella 30* Perera 0*)

Brilliant start by England, this. Bit opportunistic, the Anderson review was more in hope than expectation and Mark Wood has got one from an average ball.

05:00 AM

WICKET! Mendis b Wood c Buttler 0

Well, two impotent overs from Curran and he is replaced by the rapido Mark Wood. Bet he feels about an inch shorter than he did yesterday. An eight over spell yesterday in this heat, on this pitch... got a wicket for his troubles though. 85mph first up, 89mph second but it's a poor ball, full and on the pads and it runs to the long on boundary. Not with any great force but timed well enough by Dickwella. He steals a single off the fifth ball to bring Mendis on strike.

And he's gone! A leg-side delivery is tickled onto his pads and Buttler dives to his left and claims an excellent catch and Mark Wood has two!

FOW 243/6

04:53 AM

OVER 91: SL 238/5 (Dickwella 25* Mendis 0*)

No wicket this time from Anderson, but it's still a maiden. 4-24 off 21 overs. Superb stuff.

04:51 AM

Fantastic control from Mathews in that innings, overall

04:49 AM

OVER 90: SL 238/5 (Dickwella 25* Mendis 0*)

Hmmmm. Six runs to Dickwella in this Curran over. Two first and then short, wide and cut away for four backward of point off the final ball of the over. Infuriating for the bowler but it was his own damn fault.

04:45 AM

Curran, without the swing, is going to be almost neutered

04:44 AM

OVER 89: SL 232/5 (Dickwella 19* Mendis 0)

That's a big wicket for England, then. Mathews gone. Anderson claims his fourth and starts the day with a wicket maiden. Still producing the goods on a road of a pitch at the age of 38 and a half.

James Anderson celebrates - ECB
James Anderson celebrates - ECB

04:40 AM

WICKET! Mathews b Anderson c Buttler 110

It's James Anderson to begin at the other end. 19 overs for him, which is a comparable workload to England's spinners. Not much in it for any bowler, mind you and Anderson was superb yesterday. Good delivery first up, drifting in slightly and bouncing off a good length. It brings a shoutfor LBW but never was the umpire going to give that. A little bit of something there, though.

Final ball brings a bigger and more convincing shout... not entirely convincing though. LBW or a nick? No sound... England review...

Looks like it's just missed the inside edge as it hits the pad. Almost certainly won't be LBW but was there an edge? Hmmm, there's a slight deviation and UltraEdge shows a spike! I think that's going to be out...yep, it is! Decision overturned. Oh, there's some hesitancy from the third umpire here – he says initially to the on-field umpire that he can "stay" with his on field decision. I think he's just checking the catch... as if he needed to do that. Got in a right muddle!

FOW 232/5

04:35 AM

OVER 88: SL 232/4 (Mathews 110* Dickwella 19*)

A wide ball from Curran and Angelo Mathews drives through the covers for... what looks like four? Dom Bess diving on the boundary edge to try and save a run and I think he did, initially but does the ball then touch the boundary markers? Hard to see but the third umpire says it doesn't touch. Just three and the first runs of the day. Those the only runs from the over.

04:30 AM

Here we go...

It's Sam Curran who is going to kick things off, actually. No wickets for him yesterday and not a great deal of control, either. Not a great pitch for the bowlers, mind you.

04:28 AM

We're very nearly ready to resume play

Crucial session for England. Absolutely crucial. You sense that when they do bat, though, that it will be a bit more important. James Anderson to start the day? Probably.

04:10 AM

Tim Wigmore on Jimmy Anderson's indispensability to the England team

Just as eight days ago, Sri Lanka chose to bat first. As Broad did then, Anderson’s task was to extract everything from the scintilla of movement that Sri Lankan wickets offer on the first morning of a Test, knowing that a five over new-ball burst represented his best chance to impact the course of the Test match.Anderson’s method for doing so was subtly different. He favoured a shorter length than Broad, testing the openers with bounce as well as the morsel of swing and seam on offer. But the essential method - to entice the batsmen to play as much as possible - was much the same.

Read his full analysis here.

03:40 AM

Good morning

And a very early morning welcome to those of you who are up at this hour for day two of the second Test between Sri Lanka and England at Galle. England came into this game after an – eventually and relatively – comfortable victory in the first Test, which means they cannot lose this series. But another win in Sri Lanka would be another feather in Joe Root's captaincy cap, as it were.

Day one started well enough, with two early James Anderson wickets, but from that point onwards things became much more difficult. After Oshada Fernando fell it was 7-2 but from that point England took just another two wickets for 222 runs in more than 83 overs. The balance tipped back Sri Lanka's way and they ended the day at 229-4, with Angelo Mathews on 107 not out, supported by Niroshan Dickwella.

Anderson was, again, the pick of England's bowlers on his first Test this tour. He finished the day with a hugely impressive 3-24 off 19 overs, with 10 of those maidens. Mark Wood – who took the other wicket of the day – was the only other bowler of England's five that went for below three runs an over. The spin twins Jack Leach and Dom Bess, who took 14 wickets in the first test, struggled with control and threat.

Nick Hoult wrote about the impact of England's two wicket takers yesterday.

As preparation for India and Australia this was perfect. With no lateral movement, and batsmen ready to stay in for long periods, England had to flog themselves for wickets when normally they bowl in home conditions safe in the knowledge another edge or play and miss is never far away.

Seam bowling is England’s strength, even in Asia, and Anderson returned to Test cricket after a five month break and dropped immediately on to the right line and length. He bowled 19 overs of unrelenting accuracy for his three for 24 in arguably his best performance in Sri Lanka on his fifth tour to the country and at the age of 38.Anderson drew on his experience and played on the patience of batsmen while Wood tested their tickers.

He rapped them on the gloves, aimed balls into the ribs and found a touch of reverse when he bowled full with the older ball. He struck Chandimal on the peak of the helmet and batsmen were tentative getting forward, making the fuller ball, with which Wood took his wicket, more dangerous.

Play gets going at 4.30am. Can England drag SL back with early wickets? They will not want another long day in the field and an ominous total to compete against, quite obviously but, at the moment, anything under 400 looks good from here.