Joe Root completed a double century as England built a formidable lead on the third day of the first Test in Sri Lanka, but the hosts have replied with some batting resolve of their own in Galle.
Root converted his overnight 168 into 228 in near flawless fashion, racking up a fourth double ton, and was last man out with the score at 421. While the touring captain continued accumulating in reliable fashion, the game situation advanced rapidly around him as England lost six wickets for 101 in the morning session.
That left them 286 ahead, a huge buffer on a pitch taking lavish spin, but openers Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne withstood the scoreboard pressure with a century partnership.
Between them the pair blunted almost 38 overs as England’s attack laboured unsuccessfully, in stark contrast to rolling the entire team for 135 on the first afternoon. England finally heaved some sigh of relief when they went to stumps dismissing Perera and new man Kusal Mendis (15).
While Perera fell for 62 to Sam Curran, Thirimanne still looks solid at 76 from 189 deliveries. England, however, still have 130-run lead.
Both teams were well rested after rain wiped out the evening session on day two but England’s prior momentum remained unchecked.
Root drove the third ball of the day for four to get things up and running before his partner, Jos Buttler, treated himself to a trio of reverse sweeps to the boundary ropes.
Root soon picked up his 8,000th Test run, the seventh Englishman to do so and the second quickest having chalked up the feat in his 178th innings – two more than Kevin Pietersen.
After waiting more than a year for a century – his most recent, also a double, came against New Zealand in Hamilton in December 2019 – he cashed in handsomely here.