Jennings, Stokes pin Sri Lanka on the mat

08 November 2018 16:49 Sports Desk

After the second day unfolded rapidly, the first two sessions on the third saw England move sedately - stamping their authority on the game, taking blows and then pinning Sri Lanka on the mat. At Tea in Galle, England were 212 for 4, with a lead of 351, after a 107-run stand between Keaton Jennings and Ben Stokes kept the hosts at bay.

Sri Lanka had kept things tight in the first session, prising out three important wickets and more importantly restricting the flow of runs. Things didn't change drastically on the runs front but now the wickets dried up. Sri Lanka managed just one, that of Ben Stokes after the all-rounder had upped the ante with a brisk 62. England resumed on 111 for 3 with the lead 250 - comfortable and at ease with the progress they had made. Stokes was positive on a track offering plenty of turn while Jennings continued his march without much fuss.

Only 57 runs were scored in the first hour after Lunch but England were unhurt. The spinners proved ineffective and both England batsmen took the total past 180 and the lead past 300. In all probability, the match is already beyond Sri Lanka but it was crucial for them to keep fighting.

And then Dilruwan Perera struck, with a beauty that deserved a wicket. From outside leg, he got one to turn sharply and open up Stokes. The ball bounced past the outside edge and knocked over the off pole to leave the left-hander frustrated, who felt Sri Lanka were bowling negative lines.

Jos Buttler joined Jennings, who was on track for his second Test ton. After his ton on debut against India, Jennings had played 19 innings without a half-century. He brought out the reverse sweeps to break the shackles and got a few boundaries. He was in a tangle at times but that didn't deter him as he continued to get away with more runs. He got into the 90s with an outside edge and stayed unbeaten on 98 in what is turning out to be a career-saving knock.

Earlier in the first session, the strangle Sri Lanka managed to build early on resulted in three quick wickets as Rory Burns was run out, Moeen Ali threw away his wicket trying to take on Perera and Rangana Herath managed to dislodge Joe Root for the second time. Only 73 runs were scored in the first session in 30 overs but England seldom lost control of the game.

Brief scores: England 342 & 212/4 (Keaton Jennings 98*; Dilruwan Perera 2-67) lead Sri Lanka 203 (Angelo Mathews 52; Moeen Ali 4-66) by 351 runs.

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