Jonny Bairstow and Daniel Lawrence held their composure on a weathering Day 4 and 5 wicket in Galle to help England seal a 7-wicket win in the first Test of the 2-match series against Sri Lanka. Needing 36 to complete an emphatic win, Bairstow and Lawrence knocked off the 74-run target with ease on Monday morning to give England an unbeatable 1-0 lead.
England had a moment of panic on Sunday evening as they were reduced to 14 for 3 in their small chase. Captain Joe Root, who hit a double hundred in the first innings, was run out for 0. However, Bairstow and Lawrence braved a 30-minute period where left-arm spinner Lasith Emduldeniya was bowling a fine spell on a wearing wicket. The two got together on Monday and made sure England did not suffer any further as they took the team past the finish line.
This is England’s 5th successive victory in Sri Lanka after their 3-0 sweep in 2018 and the series-leveling win in 2012.
There were plenty of positives for England and the most important of them all was captain Joe Root’s return to form. Root hit 228 in the first innings after Sri Lanka were bundled out for 135. Thanks to Root’s record-breaking double hundred as captain, England sealed 286-run first-innings lead.
Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence chipped in with 47 and 73, respectively as England posted 421 after Dom Bess and Jack Leach shared 8 wickets between them to demolish Sri Lanka’s batting unit in the first innings.
Just when it looked like England would clinch an innings victory, Sri Lanka fought back with the bat in their 2nd innings. Kusal Perera (62) and Lahiru Thirimanne (111) added 101 for the opening stand after which Angelo Matthews added 71 as Sri Lanka posted 359. This time, left-arm spinner Jack Leach picked up a 5-wicket haul.
Despite a solid batting show on a wearing wicket, a huge first-innings deficit meant England didn’t have much to chase.
Both the teams will meet in the 2nd Test from January 22 in Galle.