By Ronan Alexander
England secured a comfortable victory in the First Test Match in Galle, and we take a look at how the under-24 players performed.
Sri Lanka 135 & 359
England 421 & 76/3
England win by 7 wickets
Dan Lawrence (23) 9/10
An almost faultless debut from the Essex batsman, scoring 73 first time round before his unbeaten 21 got England over the line to seal what proved to be a comfortable victory.
The 173 run stand with Joe Root was essentially what proved to be a match-winning partnership as it put the tourists completely in the driving seat to set up victory after an excellent bowling performance. His knock included six 4’s and one glorious maximum off the bowling of Embuldinaya where he cleared his front leg and smashed the ball over the mid-wicket fence, holding his stylish pose in the process.
In the second innings he survived a close lbw review before Sri Lanka chose not to go upstairs next time, but if they did, Lawrence would’ve been dismissed. However, he batted with maturity and coolly ticked off singles to steer England to victory and has a test average of 94. Not bad at all.
Lasith Embuldinaya (24) 7/10
What stood out most about Embuldinaya was the strong element of trust that his captain Dinesh Chandimal showed in him. Opened the bowling in both innings with his left-arm spin. Got through 45 overs in the first innings with figures of 3/176, removing all of England’s top three batsmen.
Second time round he again claimed the scalps of both England openers (2/29) including an absolute beauty that removed Dom Sibley by hitting the top of his off stump after he misjudged a leave.
The element of trust was again shown as he was given the task of being night-watchman for Sri-Lanka’s second innings and got his job done, blocking out before bad-light brought a premature end to Day 3.
Sam Curran (22) 6/10
England’s ‘golden arm’ came up with two wickets at key times in the second innings. Broke Sri Lanka’s 101 run opening partnership by dismissing Kusal Perera for 62.
His other wicket was fellow opener Lahiru Thirimanne who Curran had trapped behind for 111. That gave him figures of 2/37 from 11 overs and bowled one spell in the first innings, ending with 0/8 from four overs. Got a first ball with the bat, but the damage was already done by England, so did not prove to be costly. Certainly did enough to keep his place in the side for Friday, it just depends if the coaching team decide to rotate their seamers and give Chris Woakes an opportunity.
Asitha Fernando (23) 6/10
On a pitch dominated by spin bowlers, Fernando was the man to lead the hosts pace attack in what was only his second test match.
Bowled with control and collected 2/44 from his 14 overs. Had Jos Buttler caught behind before removing Sam Curran’s off-peg first ball. Didn’t manage to get a bowl in the second innings as Sri Lanka opted to use spinners only in the 24.2 overs they bowled, but showed plenty promise from what we saw.
Wanindu Hasaranga (23) 4/10
The leg-spinner starred in the Lanka Premier League prior to this series but failed to deliver in the first test match. Bowled 15 overs, finishing with 0/63 in the first innings as England posted 421, an economy rate of 4.20 which doesn’t make for great reading. Only bowled one over second time round.
Did show a bit of grit with the bat after scores of 19 and 12, batting at 8 before coming in at 9 second time round. Best is yet to come.
Zak Crawley (22) 3/10
A Test to forget for Crawley who failed in both innings with scores of 9 and 8. He will be especially disappointed with his soft dismissal in the first innings. He looked comfortable and got off the mark with an elegant nudge into the leg-side but ultimately threw his wicket away. He came down the track to Embuldinaya and looked to clear mid-off but skewed his shot and was caught by Hasaranga.
Chasing 73 for victory would have gave the Kent batsman less pressure, but again came undone by Embuldinaya, pushing at a delivery he didn’t necessarily need to and was caught at second slip for 8. Will be looking to make amends when the second test begins on Friday.