Moeen, Foakes star as England dominate SL
GALLE (BBC): England bowled out Sri Lanka on day two of the first Test to move into a dominant position in Galle.
Debutant Ben Foakes reached his first Test century before falling for 107 as England added 21 to their overnight total to post 342.
The tourists then produced a fine all-round bowling performance, with Moeen Ali taking 4-66, to bowl the hosts out for 203 in 68 overs.
England reached 38-0 at the close, 177 runs ahead.
Jack Leach and Adil Rashid took two wickets each for England, with seamers James Anderson and Sam Curran getting one apiece.
Sri Lanka were 64-4 at lunch before a patient partnership of 75 between Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews, which was ended when Rashid dismissed Chandimal for 33 shortly before tea.
Moeen then had Mathews caught at short leg from the first ball after tea and the final five wickets fell in 18.3 overs in the evening session.
England are now in a strong position to secure their first overseas Test victory since October 2016 and end a 13-game winless run away from home.
England’s first-innings total had looked like a par score at best but their bowlers have put Joe Root’s side in one of their most dominant positions in an overseas Test in recent years.
The team’s quick bowlers are expected to play a less significant role in this series as spin comes to the fore but Anderson had Dimuth Karunaratne caught behind from the second ball of the hosts’ innings.
For a few overs at least, both he and Sam Curran, who shared the new ball, found a hint of swing; the latter trapped Kaushal Silva lbw in the fourth over.
Once the swing stopped, Root introduced his spinners, with Jack Leach coming into the attack after the seventh over, and all three impressed.
Playing in his second Test, Leach bowled accurately and had Kusal Mendis caught at slip for his first wicket of the match, while Moeen bowled Dhananjaya de Silva in his first over shortly before lunch.
Mathews and Chandimal offered some resistance but then Rashid produced a fine leg-spinner that dipped and turned sharply to have Chandimal stumped.
After tea Moeen then turned the game decisively in England’s favour. He took the three quick wickets of Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella and Akila Dananjaya before Leach and Rashid returned to take the final two wickets.
Leach and Moeen did the majority of the work throughout the day, bowling 39 overs combined to Rashid’s nine, but all three were impressive.
Foakes had done the majority of the work needed to reach his century on day one by helping his team recover from 103-5 to close on 321-8, and without him England’s dominant position would not have been possible.
He had been calm throughout his first day in Test cricket and continued in that vein on day two, stroking the first ball of the day for four through extra cover.
Leach was dismissed with Foakes on 95, increasing the possibility of Foakes being left stranded before reaching three figures but Anderson survived the remainder of the over, giving Foakes the chance to reach the landmark.
The Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman then pulled a boundary behind square on the leg side to move to 99 and hit a fine back-foot drive through mid-on to complete his century from 200 balls.
In doing so he became only the second England wicketkeeper to score a hundred on his debut – following Matt Prior in 2007 – and just the fifth wicketkeeper to do so for any team in Tests.
He then claimed the joint-fastest dismissal by a keeper on his Test debut when taking a catch off Anderson to dismiss Karunaratne on the second ball of the hosts’ innings.
Foakes also showed good glovework to stump Chandimal off Rashid and took a smart catch when standing up to the stumps as Moeen claimed the scalp of Akila.
For Sri Lanka this was a seriously disappointing day.
The hosts had England in trouble at 103-5 on day one but might now need rain to avoid defeat.
Their batsmen seemed not to learn from the wickets of the England top order on day one, with a number of them also falling to attacking shots.
Dhananjaya departed in a similar fashion to Ben Stokes on day one, trying to sweep fine but getting bowled around his legs, and Chandimal, struggling with an injury, came aggressively down the pitch and was stranded out of his ground.
And where England’s lower order – Foakes, Curran and Rashid notably – were able to drag the tourists to a respectable total, Sri Lanka’s final batsmen fell chipping to close fielders.