2nd Test: Adil Rashid, Sam Curran frustrate Sri Lanka
Adil Rashid (AFP Image)

England’s top batsmen were toppled by Sri Lanka’s spinners after their new number three Ben Stokes and skipper Joe Root fell cheaply on day one of the second Test on Wednesday. The tourists lost regular wickets after electing to bat first and were 212 for seven at tea in Kandy. Sam Curran, on 12, and Adil Rashid, on 29, were batting at the break.

Jos Buttler stood out with his gritty 63 after the spinners, led by Malinda Pushpakumara, ran through the English top and middle order. Dilruwan Perera grabbed two wickets while fellow spinner Akila Dananjaya and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal claimed one each.

Pushpakumara took the three key wickets of Root, for 14, Buttler and Moeen Ali, for 10, with his left-arm orthodox spin to put England on the back foot on a turning pitch. The left-right batting pair of Curran and Rashid put together an unbeaten 41-run stand for the eighth wicket after the hosts had slipped to 171-7.

Stokes, who batted at number five in his team’s opening win last week, had been sent up the order following Moeen’s twin failures at number three in Galle. Offspinner Perera successfully reviewed an lbw decision against Stokes after the on-field umpire had turned down an appeal. He was out for 19.

Lakmal, who is leading the side in place of injured Dinesh Chandimal, had Keaton Jennings caught behind for one in the fifth over. Root, who scored 35 and three in the first Test, was bowled by Pushpakumara in the 18th over for 14 and Rory Burns (43) soon followed as England slumped to 89 for 4 before lunch.

Buttler then counter-attacked, hitting five boundaries with a mixture of sweeps and reverse sweeps as he built crucial partnerships including a 45-run stand with Moeen. He was finally undone while attempting one reverse sweep too many, as he was caught at backward point and walked back to the pavilion to a standing ovation.