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England skittle dismal Sri Lanka for 135 on day one of first Test as Dom Bess takes five wickets

Sri Lanka gift England wickets as they slump to the lowest-ever first-innings total in a Galle Test; Dom Bess takes five wickets as hosts skittled in 46.1 overs; Joe Root’s 50th Test fifty helps England to 127-2 by stumps, a deficit of only eight runs


Off-spinner Dom Bess picked up a five-wicket haul as England razed Sri Lanka for just 135 on day one of the first Test with the hosts putting in a truly abject batting performance.

Bess claimed 5-30, Stuart Broad bagged 3-20 and Jack Leach took 1-55 and recorded a run out, but the visitors were aided by some kamikaze strokeplay on a good pitch as Sri Lanka posted the worst-ever first-innings score in a Test match at Galle – having elected to bat after winning the toss.

Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain branded Sri Lanka’s innings “farcical” and “abysmal” while fellow pundit Michael Atherton called the home side’s effort “some of the worst Test match batting I have ever seen”.


England encountered their own problems with the bat, losing openers Dom Sibley (4) and Zak Crawley (9) to slip to 17-2, but captain Joe Root (66no from 115) and the recalled Jonny Bairstow (47no off 91) steered the tourists to 127 from 41 overs by stumps with an unbroken partnership of 110 – England’s highest for any wicket on the ground.

Root – who captained England to a 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka on their previous trip to the island in late 2018 – completed his 50th Test fifty from 94 balls as the tourists closed only eight runs in arrears after a day Bess will not forget in a hurry but the home side will wish they could.

Bess benefited from Kusal Perera (20) reverse-sweeping his second ball to slip and Niroshan Dickwella (12) cutting a long hop to backward point, while the 23-year-old sealed his second Test five-for, and ended Sri Lanka’s innings, when he castled Wanindu Hasaranga (19) on the reverse sweep.

The Yorkshire spinner enjoyed a huge slice of luck when he removed Dasun Shanaka (23) – the batsman’s sweep deflecting off Bairstow’s ankle at short leg and ballooning into the gloves of wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

Broad – picked in the England XI ahead of James Anderson – had bagged the first two wickets of the morning, both in the seventh over, with Lahiru Thirimanne (4) clipping tamely to Bairstow at leg slip and the out-of-form Kusal Mendis (0) snicking a leg-cutter behind to Buttler.

Mendis’ dismissal earned him an unwanted fourth straight Test match duck after bagging three in Sri Lanka’s recent 2-0 Test series defeat in South Africa – and the right-hander may perhaps not have played had captain Dimuth Karunaratne not been ruled out with a fractured thumb.


Dinesh Chandimal (28) – standing in as skipper for Karunaratne – and Angelo Mathews (27) lifted Sri Lanka from 25-3 to 81-3 with a fourth-wicket stand of 56, during which Mathews passed 6,000 Test runs and Chandimal was dropped by England debutant Dan Lawrence at cover.

But the experienced duo fell tamley to Broad and Leach respectively in the second session – Lawrence’s error when Chandimal was on 22 costing England only six runs – and Sri Lanka went on to lose their last seven wickets for only 54 runs, with their shots leaving the pundits aghast.

Bess’ wickets were mainly gifted to him but he did deliver a beauty to dismiss Dilruwan Perera for a two-ball duck, with his ball dipping, pitching and spinning onto the stumps between bat and pad.

Dilruwan’s exit left Sri Lanka eight down and after Leach ran out Lasith Embuldeniya (0) at the non-striker’s end having deflected Hasaranga’s drive onto the stumps, Bess cleaned up Hasaranga for his five-for – a year after bagging his first, against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

Leach was the better of England’s two spinners, despite the figures suggesting otherwise, and was rewarded in the second session when Sri Lanka’s top-scorer Chandimal drove him to Sam Curran at cover, shortly after Mathews had slashed Broad behind to Root at slip.


Somerset man Leach spurned the chance to remove Kusal Perera early in the first session, failing to pick the ball up at deep fine leg after the left-hander top-edged Broad in his direction on the pull.

Sri Lanka were still two wickets down inside seven overs – and England were two down inside eight as left-arm spinner Embuldeniya struck twice; Sibley out on review after snicking behind from a tentative prod and Crawley caught on the circle looking to go over mid-off.

Bairstow – showing no ill-effects of the knock to his ankle earlier on – and Root ticked along as they manipulated Sri Lanka’s spinners and guided England through to stumps, with Root now hoping to chalk up the sort of big, match-winning score that he said he has been lacking in a chat with Atherton ahead of this two-Test series.

Root was quick to call for DRS after being given out to Embuldeniya on 20, with his review paying off as ball-tracking showed the delivery would have bounced over the stumps.

England wore black armbands on Thursday in memory of former players John Edrich, Robin Jackman and Don Smith, who have recently passed away.

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