Sri Lanka vs England, 2nd Test: Attack the bowlers, Joe Root urges batsmen
Joe Root called on his team to stay positive and target the Sri Lankan bowling. @AFP

England captain Joe Root has a message to his fellow batsmen as they face Sri Lanka in the second Test at Pallekele attack the bowling to frustrate the hosts.

A famous win in the first Test in Galle ended a 13-match winless streak away from home for England and has put Root in the unfamiliar position of trying to become the first England captain to win a Test series in Sri Lanka since 2001.

Conditions are expected to be drier than they were in Galle, even with scattered thunderstorms forecast for four of the next five days, and Root called on his team to stay positive and target the Sri Lankan bowling.

We have to look to be as adaptable as possible, he said on Tuesday. ‘It was a strength of ours throughout that last Test. But I want us to look to take the positive option if we’re unsure at any stage. I want us to keep taking the game to the opposition. We have to make sure we stay in the game as long as possible. It’s very easy to lose a Test in a session, and very difficult to win one. We have to be as skilful as we were in Galle for a long period of time.

Should they succeed at Pallekele, England will have claimed their first away Test series win since the 2-1 success in South Africa in 2015-16. Root said after the Galle win that England take huge amounts of confidence into the second Test and praised a more aggressive approach headlined by the debutant Ben Foakes who revived them from 103/5 with help from Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid.

Sustaining that in the second Test is what Root expects. It would be extremely important for this group of players, he said. It feels like we’re going in a really strong direction at the moment. But that’s the temptation: if you see the carrot dangled in front of you, you can look too far ahead.