Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence held their nerves in a 52-run unbroken stand to guide England to a seven-wicket win on the fifth and final morning of the series-opening Test against Sri Lanka.
England ensured it didn’t have any more hiccups in erasing the remaining 36 required on the last day after Sri Lanka had set up a tricky 74-run target on a turning wicket. England had slumped to 14-3 late on the fourth evening before Bairstow and Lawrence combined to usher the tourists to 76-3.
Bairstow remained unbeaten on 35 off 65 balls and Lawrence, who hit a gritty half-century in the first innings, finished 21 not out. Sri Lanka had a chance of a breakthrough after England resumed on 38-3.
Bairstow eventually sealed the victory with a boundary when he swept Perera to square leg. “To come with little prep and play in the manner we have, has been really impressive,” Root said after receiving his man-of-the-match award.
Root’s 228 in the first innings — his fourth Test double century — provided England a hefty lead of 286 runs as the visitors posted 421 runs in the first innings. “The thing that pleased me the most was my mindset,” Root said of his innings.
“I felt I got into a good place, managed to get my feet apart, get forward and back well. People have been critical of my conversion, so nice to go up and make a big one.”
The England captain also praised the effort of his two spinners — Dom Bess and Jack Leach, who snared 14 wickets between them with each bagging a five-wicket haul.
Sri Lanka was rattled for 135 in its first innings but rallied with a 359-run effort in the second innings after England had responded with 421, a hefty lead of 286 runs.
The second Test of the two-match series will also be played at Galle, starting on Friday. England swept the series 3-0 when they last toured Sri Lanka in 2018.