Jonny Bairstow stormed to 81 not out in the third Test on Friday, shining in England's troubled number three spot, as Sri Lanka's bowlers toiled.
Jonny Bairstow stormed to 81 not out in the third Test on Friday, shining in England’s troubled number three spot, as Sri Lanka’s bowlers toiled.

Jonny Bairstow stormed to 81 not out in the third Test on Friday, shining in England‘s troubled number three spot, as Sri Lanka‘s bowlers toiled.

At tea on day one, England were 197-3, with Ben Stokes unbeaten on 38 at the Singhalese Cricket Club. The visitors are hoping for a 3-0 whitewash.

Batting after captain Joe Root won his eighth consecutive toss, England lost both openers cheaply in the morning session before Root and Bairstow, England’s fourth different number three in the series, steadied the ship.

Rory Burns disappointed again, bowled by Dilruwan Perera for 14 as he tried to cut. Keaton Jennings fell three overs later, caught at leg slip off Malinda Pushpakumara for 13.

Bairstow, playing his first Test of the series, survived an early review off Pushpakumara but grew in confidence before lunch and through the afternoon session, getting his 81 off 133 balls with eight fours and one six.

Root, fresh from a century in his last innings, also survived a review in the morning before sweeping comfortably as he has done all series.

Bairstow and Root put on a 100-run stand before the captain fell to left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan after lunch, top-edging an attempted slog sweep on 46.

Sri Lanka should have had Stokes as well, with umpire Chris Gaffaney incorrectly turning down Perera’s lbw appeal when the Durham allrounder was yet to get off the mark.

Bairstow completed his half century in the sixth over after lunch.

He relied heavily on the sweep and the lap sweep for his runs, and was also quick to shuffle back into his crease and pull the spinners when they dropped short.

His partnership with Stokes was worth 61 by tea, coming off just 99 deliveries.

Despite winning the first two Tests — by a massive margin at Galle — the visitors have had an issue with the number three position.

Sri Lanka’s spinners were at times guilty of a little indiscipline, with the aggressive Sandakan going at 4.61 an over.

England have rested fast bowler James Anderson to give Stuart Broad his first Test of the series.

Sri Lanka also made two changes, bringing in left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan to replace Akila Dananjaya who is in Brisbane having his bowling action tested.

Under-performing opener Kaushal Silva was left out in favour of Danushka Gunathilaka.