Allrounder Moeen Ali snapped four wickets as Sri Lanka folded for 203 in their first innings. @ Getty Images
Allrounder Moeen Ali snapped four wickets as Sri Lanka folded for 203 in their first innings. @ Getty Images

England are staring at a rare victory in the subcontinent against Sri Lanka in the first Test at Galle. At stumps on day two, England were 38 for no loss, leading Sri Lanka by 177 runs in their second innings on Wednesday.

Debutant Rory Burns (11) and Keaton Jennings (26) played out the 12 overs left after Moeen Ali’s four wickets scripted Sri Lanka’s downfall. England are in an ominous position to notch a huge target unless left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, in his swansong Test, manages to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

At tea, Sri Lanka were 136/5 with Angelo Mathews leading the resistance with a fighting half century. However, he was caught by Jennings off Ali that led to a flurry of wickets. From 136/6, Sri Lanka soon slumped to 175/9. Niroshan Dickwella (28) soon followed Mathews after edging one to Jos Buttler at short cover off Ali.

Dilruwan Perera added just 21 before Jack Leach claimed his second wicket after Perera was caught by Buttler again. Ali and Adil Rashid then snapped the remaining two wickets of Akila Dananjaya (0) and Suranga Lakmal (15) as Sri Lanka were back in the hut with a deficit of 139 runs.

For England, Ali snapped four, while Rashid and Leach claimed two wickets apiece.

Earlier, after England shredded their top-order to leave them tottering at 40/4, Mathews joined captain Dinesh Chandimal in reviving the innings through a 75-run stand. He went on to score his 30th Test fifty and was unbeaten on 52 when the second session came to an end with the hosts still 206 runs behind.

Chandimal battled through a groin injury to hit three fours before Rashid ended England’s frustration by having them stumped on 33. Dickwella then saw through the remainder of the session safely with Mathews who has struck three fours so far in a patient knock.

Ben Foakes became the 20th English cricketer to score a century on Test debut that helped England consolidate their position. Foakes’ maiden ton lifted England to 342 before Sri Lanka’s top order crumbled against visitors and they were left in all sorts of trouble.

Foakes, resuming the second day on 87, had added just seven runs when Leach was removed by Dilruwan Perera to complete his five-wicket-haul. With last man James Anderson in, Foakes decided to the take the aggressive route and brought up his century, becoming just the second English wicketkeeper after Matt Prior to bring up a century in maiden Test.

Brief Scores: England 342 & 38/0 (Keaton Jennings 26*, Rory Burns 11*) lead Sri Lanka 203 all out (Angelo Mathews 52, Dinesh Chandimal 33; Moeen Ali 4/66) by 177 runs on day two