‘We are on an upward curve’: Joe Root hails England’s progress after Sri Lanka win

Skipper Joe Root led by example with a classy double century in England's seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Galle. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence held their nerve in a 62-run unbroken stand to guide England to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Monday on the fifth and final morning of the series-opening test.

England ensured they didn’t have any more hiccups in erasing the remaining 36 required on the last day after Sri Lanka had set up a tricky 74-run target on a turning wicket.

England had slumped to 14-3 late on the fourth evening, included a crucial run-out of its captain Joe Root for just 1, before Bairstow and Lawrence combined to usher the tourists to 76-3.

Bairstow remained unbeaten on 35 off 65 balls and Lawrence, who hit a gritty half century in the first innings of debut, finished 21 not out.

Sri Lanka had the chance of a breakthrough after England resumed on 38-3. Bairstow may have been out lbw off Dilruwarn Perera’s off-spin in the third over, but stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal didn’t go for the television referral.

Bairstow eventually sealed the victory with a boundary when he swept Perera to square leg.

“To come with little prep and play in the manner we have, has been really impressive,” Root said after receiving his man-of-the-match award.

Root’s 228 in the first innings – his fourth test double century – provided England a hefty lead of 286 runs as the visitors posted 421 runs in the first innings.

“The thing that pleased me the most was my mindset,” Root said of his innings.

“I felt I got into a good place, managed to get my feet apart, get forward and back well. People have been critical of my conversion, so nice to go up and make a big one.”

The England captain also praised the effort of his two spinners – Dom Bess and Jack Leach – who snared 14 wickets between them, each bagging a five-wicket haul.

“Brilliant effort, particularly with the little cricket they’ve played recently”, Root said.

“Series like these are always tough but without the prep it’s testament to their characters.”

 

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