Sat, Jun 14, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Joe Root passes 150 as England take firm grip

AFP, LONDON

England’s Joe Root, left, plays a shot as Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene looks on on the second day of the first Test at Lord’s in London yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Joe Root passed 150 after Stuart Broad’s quickfire 47 helped take England to 473-8 against Sri Lanka at lunch on the second day of the first Test at Lord’s in London yesterday.

It was the first time in 14 Tests that England had reached the benchmark innings score of 400.

Root, England’s overnight century-maker, was 152 not out after dashing left-handed batsman Broad dominated a seventh-wicket stand worth 64.

England, who had been struggling at 22-2 and 74-3, resumed yesterday well-placed on 344-5.

Root, recalled after being dropped for the final Test of England’s 5-0 Ashes drubbing in Sydney in January was 102 not out — his second century in as many Lord’s Tests after the 23-year-old Yorkshireman’s Test-best 180 against Australia last year.

Meanwhile, Matt Prior, dropped from the side for the final two Ashes Tests, had celebrated his return with a typically free-scoring 76 not out, although he only narrowly survived a second ball leg before wicket appeal from left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

“It’s a very slow wicket and hard to time when the ball goes softer,” Root told Sky Sports at the close of play on Thursday.

“It was a day when you had to scrap,” he added after batting for more than five hours. “Nothing beats Test cricket in my eyes and the challenge of trying to score runs in the first Test of the summer after the winter we had was one I relished.”

Before the match, Australia great Shane Warne said England ought to have given a debut to Jos Buttler and left Prior out.

However, Root said he was delighted to have the Sussex gloveman alongside him.

“I love batting with Matty. He’s a great bloke to have in the side, and to play how he has is testament to his character and his quality as a player.”

Sri Lanka, who had struck early with the new ball on a green pitch after captain Angelo Mathews won the toss, had found wickets increasingly hard to come by on Thursday.

“We bowled pretty well on this wicket,” Sri Lanka bowling coach Chaminda Vaas said.

“I thought in the first few hours we bowled in some good areas,” the former left-arm seamer added. “I didn’t expect more [than five wickets] because something happened in the wicket in the first few hours.”

With the new ball only nine overs old yesterday, Sri Lanka unsettled both Root and Prior by stationing a leg slip as pacemen Nuwan Pradeep and Shaminda Eranga pitched short from around the wicket.

It was a tactic that twice yielded a dividend.

Prior, 14 runs shy of a comeback century, fended a rising Eranga delivery to short-leg having helped Root add 171 for the sixth wicket.

Chris Jordan, one of three home debutants in the match along with Sam Robson and Moeen Ali, struck three boundaries in eight balls, but the all-rounder’s run-a-ball 19 came to an end when he lobbed a gentle catch off Eranga to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

Broad, primarily a seamer, kept the runs coming, though, with a flurry of boundaries, including two dismissive square-cuts off Pradeep.

However, he pulled Pradeep straight to deep midwicket to end a run-a-minute innings.

Liam Plunkett was then dropped on 2 when Eranga at midwicket put down a routine chance off Pradeep.

Root then rounded off an excellent session for England with a three off Herath that saw him to 150 in 246 balls, including 12 fours.

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