Sri Lanka wipes out deficit, reaches 302-7 in 1st testPTI | Galle | Updated: 17-01-2021 15:38 IST | Created: 17-01-2021 15:38 IST
England finally hit back through its spinners but not before Lahiru Thirimanne’s first test century in almost eight years helped Sri Lanka wipe out a huge deficit of 286 runs on the fourth day of the first test on Sunday.
Offspinner Dom Bess claimed 3-81 and leftarm spinner Jack Leach snared 2-97 with Sri Lanka reaching 302-7 at tea. The home team leads by just 16 runs as England aims to claim the remaining three wickets quickly in the last session.
Mathews survived an lbw television referral against Bess in the last over before tea as he attempted to sweep the offspinner, but replays suggested the ball had turned enough to miss the leg stump.
Bess struck twice in the middle session when he had stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal caught in the slip in the first over after lunch.
Niroshan Dickwella (29) added 48 runs with Mathews before playing a loose cut against the offspinner and got a thick edge to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler before Leach clean bowled Dasun Shanaka (4) with a full-pitched delivery that went underneath the bat to hit the stumps.
Earlier, Thirimanne’s patient century that featured 12 fours carried Sri Lanka to 242-4 at lunch after the home team resumed on 156-2.
Sam Curran (2-37) provided the much-awaited breakthrough when he got the inside edge off Thirimanne’s bat from a delivery that nipped back into the left-hander.
Mathews, who was dropped on 11 at forward short leg, reached his second slowest fifty in test cricket off 164 balls in the second session before England struck through its spinners.
But Thirimanne, who wouldn’t have played had regular captain Dimuth Karunaratne recovered from a thumb injury, grabbed the opportunity with both hands on a difficult wicket where the ball is spinning. He showed lot of temperament against spinners and fast bowlers alike in raising only his second test century in his 37th test.
England’s spinners had created opportunities to dismiss Thirimanne after Bess had removed overnight batsman Lasith Embuldeniya for nought in the second over when the batsman played a loose shot to short extra cover.
Bess twice came close to claiming the wicket of Thirimanne, who resumed on 76. First Dom Sibley dived full length for a catch at the cover boundary but came up just short and then a top-edged slog sweep landed in no-man’s land.
Thirimanne reached his hundred off 227 balls with a square cut boundary off Bess. It was Thirimanne’s first test hundred in 54 test innings since he scored 155 not out against Bangladesh at the same venue in March 2013.
England captain Joe Root’s fourth double century had given England a massive lead of 286 as the visitors made 421 in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 135.
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