2nd Test, Lunch: Sri Lanka spinners trouble England
Dilruwan Perera celebrates the wicket of Ben Stokes (AFP Image)

Sri Lanka picked up four top-order wickets but Jos Buttler combatted the spin-heavy attack of the visitors to take England to 120 for 4 at lunch on the opening day of the second Test in Pallekele.All three spinners picked up a wicket each but Buttler’s counter-attacking approach ensured that England scored at four runs an over in that morning session.

Stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal dealt England an early blow with the wicket of Keaton Jennings, the centurion from the previous match. Outside off, Jennings poked at the ball and was taken by Niroshan Dickwella. Ben Stokes helped himself to a couple of early boundaries, and England’s experiment of sending him at No. 3 seemed to be working as the allrounder and Rory Burns batted with caution to add 37 runs for the second wicket. England’s brief recovery was halted by Dilruwan Perera, who trapped Stokes out LBW to pick up his first wicket.

As the surface started offering turn, a straighter one from Malinda Pushpakumara, in the team for Rangana Herath, breached a front foot defence from Joe Root to castle the England captain. Burns and Buttler got together in an attempt to negate the spin threat of Perera, Pushpakumara and Dananjaya. Burns took Perera for back-to-back boundaries early on but wickets at the other end promoted him to see off a few deliveries. Four of his five boundaries were hit off Perera with Burns occasionally opting for the conventional, and the reverse sweep.

In the 26th over, Burns survived a close caught behind shout but edged the next tone one to Roshen de Silva off Dananjaya at first slip. Jos Buttler cracked back-to-back boundaries off the same bowler to bring up England’s 100. On a morning where sweep was the most-implemented stroke, Buttler swept Pushpakumara twice to move to 35 off 30 balls.

Brief Scores: England 120 for 4 (Rory Burns 43; Jos Buttler 38*; Akila Dananjaya 1/15) against Sri Lanka at lunch on Day 1.