Cricket: Root puts England in control against Sri Lanka

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LONDON: Yorkshireman Joe Root’s maiden double hundred has given England a big advantage in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s after the hosts declared their innings on 575 for nine.


Sri Lanka fought back well, reaching 140 for one at stumps on day two on Friday.


The Sri Lankans are still 435 runs behind and need a further 235 to avoid the follow-on.


They lost opener Dimuth Karunaratne for 38 as debutant Chris Jordan claimed a wicket in his first over of Test cricket.


But Kaushal Silva added 82 runs for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara as the tourists ended on a positive note after a tough start. Sri Lanka haven’t lost a Test Match at Lord’s in 23 years.


Root became only the second Englishman to score a double hundred against Sri Lanka after Jonathan Trott and helped the hosts to their highest score against the Sri Lankans surpassing their 551 for six declared made in 2006.


Resuming from the overnight score of 344 for five, Root extended the partnership with wicketkeeper Matt Prior to 170 runs, also a record for England against Sri Lanka for the sixth wicket.


The one-dimensional Sri Lankan attack struggled on good batting conditions as England scored at a healthy rate on day two.


Seamer Shaminda Eranga threatened to help Sri Lanka regain the initiative when he bowled a good spell in the morning session where he had two wickets in quick succession.


Bowling with a leg slip and a short leg in place, Eranga bowled short and had Prior caught at short leg by Kaushal Silva for 86 and another short ball accounted for Jordan.


But overall he was erratic giving away too many loose balls down the leg side and finished with three for 163 in 30 overs.


Prior was disappointed at missing out on a century by 14 runs.


“You get into a position where you want to score runs for your team. This morning Root and I were so close to putting the team into a strong position and Sri Lanka came hard at us. We knew they would come hard at us,” he said.


“Disappointed to fall 14 runs away from the century and that would have been a nice landmark to get to.”


Stuart Broad made 47 off 38 deliveries with nine fours and added 64 runs for the eighth wicket with Root.


Nuwan Pradeep claimed his wicket and two balls later should have had Liam Plunkett, but the chance was put down by Eranga at midwicket.


That proved costly as the ninth wicket stand between Plunkett, playing his first Test in seven years, and Root produced 81 runs and, more importantly, got Root closer to the double hundred.


Anderson, in with Root 19 runs shy of a double century, showed his confidence by getting off the mark with a reverse-swept four off Herath.


Root’s two off the spinner then took him to a double century in just over five hours off 298 balls with 16 fours.


“Root went in during a tough situation. Him and Ian Bell played well and then after that I thought Moeen Ali played really well with Root,” Prior said.


“Two young guys doing the job in that pressure was great, leaving and keeping the composure. For Rooty to go on and get the hundred and then go onto get the double hundred at Lord’s is pretty special.”


Prior was hopeful England bowlers would be able to do the job for the team despite the wicket offering little assistance.


“We have played on wickets like this. It’s slow, but its two-paced and that gives you a bit of chance. The wicket is quite dry and we aren’t not going to blast anyone out on that wicket.


“We have to build the pressure, dry out the runs and get wickets that way through building pressure. When you get a big score you want to attack and the guys learned a lot from that session and we want to build the pressure tomorrow.”


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