Joe Root century strengthens England’s grip on first Test against Sri Lanka


England captain Joe Root racked up a brilliant century and debutant Dan Lawrence announced himself in style as the tourists strengthened their iron grip on the first Test against Sri Lanka.

Root walked off at tea on day two in Galle unbeaten on 168 not out, an English record on the island, and in complete control of events on 320 for four – a lead of 185.

Having ended day one in a powerful position, just eight runs behind on 127 for two, the Yorkshireman made sure his side’s dominance only grew with an innings of considerable style and quantifiable substance.

The 30-year-old had spent the entirety of 2020 stuck on 17 Test hundreds but moved the tally along in his first knock of the new year.

Resuming on 66 not out overnight, he reasserted his status as a master practitioner against spin, utterly secure on the back foot, persistently effective on the sweep and always ready to work the gaps.

Lawrence, though, was taking a step into the unknown after arriving to the crease in the second over of the day following Jonny Bairstow’s early exit for 47.

What followed was a highly impressive calling card in international cricket, with the 23-year-old brimming with confidence and personality before falling for 73.

His first attempt at the top level saw him stick around for 150 balls, hit six fours and one handsome six over wide long-on – all on a dry, turning pitch a world away from his native Essex.