England finish just eight runs off Sri Lanka’s dismal 135 with EIGHT wickets in hand

An excellent bowling display from Stuart Broad and a fortunate five-for from Dom Bess allowed England to dismiss Sri Lanka for a paltry 135 on day one of the first Test in Galle.

The home side were rounded up in just 46.1 overs after deciding to bat first, initially undone by Broad’s quality on a pitch offering little obvious assistance to the seamers and then collapsing in a heap with a series of soft dismissals.

Broad was leading the attack in the absence of the omitted James Anderson and offered great value for his three for 20, but even Bess would admit to being flattered by his career-best return of five for 30.

Joe Root's side are on top after dismissing the hosts for a lowly 135 by tea on day one

Joe Root’s side are on top after dismissing the hosts for a lowly 135 by tea on day one

Dom Bess took five wickets as he rattled through the lower-order putting the tourists in control

Dom Bess took five wickets as he rattled through the lower-order putting the tourists in control

The off-spinner was outbowled by slow left-armer Jack Leach, but still managed to run through a bizarrely compliant Sri Lankan order.

Kusal Perera reverse swept his second ball to slip, Niroshan Dickwella carved a long hop to point and Dasun Shanaka was caught behind via a ricochet off Jonny Bairstow’s ankle at short leg.

He finally earned a breakthrough when he turned one through a yawning gap left by Dilruwan Perera and ended a woeful batting effort when Wanindu Hasaranga lost middle and leg stump to an ill-conceived reverse.

The morning began with bad news for the home side, whose captain Dimuth Karunaratne was ruled out with a hairline fracture of the thumb, but in winning the toss Dinesh Chandimal offered them the chance to assume control with a sensible display.

With no seam movement or swing on offer it looked a thankless task for Broad as the senior paceman, but he carried on his fine form from 2020 to open up the game. Having already seen a chance go begging when Leach misjudged Kusal Perera’s top edge at fine leg, he struck twice in his fourth over.

Stuart Broad took three wickets as England made a strong start to the first Test in Sri Lanka

Stuart Broad took three wickets as England made a strong start to the first Test in Sri Lanka

Lahiru Thirimanne sprung a trap set by England captain Joe Root, flicking Broad off his pads and straight into the hands of the alert Bairstow at leg gully. Broad wheeled away in delight, acknowledging his skipper’s foresight with a point of the finger.

Next up was Kusal Mendis, fresh from three straight ducks against South Africa. Broad needed just two balls to make it four in a row, hanging a leg cutter outside off stump and watching as the number three lunged at it and edged to Jos Buttler.

At 16 for two, Sri Lanka had surrendered the initiative but worse was to come when Kusal Perera tossed away his start. Having scored 20 of his side’s first 25 runs he knelt into a pre-meditated reverse sweep from Bess’ second ball.

His timing was off and, when the ball lobbed to slip off the glove, Root made no mistake. A lunch score of 65 for three would have looked even worse had debutant Essex batsman Dan Lawrence held a catch at cover off Chandimal, but the initiative was still with England.

The England seamer dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne early before Kusal Mendis failed to score

The England seamer dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne early before Kusal Mendis failed to score 

The afternoon session was, remarkably, even worse for Mickey Arthur’s men, who lost seven for 54 after Chandimal’s stand with Angelo Mathews subsided.

Again it was Root who got the ball rolling, Mathews slashing away from his body and feeding Root in the cordon. From there the batsmanship was dire.

Chandimal top-scored with 28 but learned nothing from his earlier reprieve as he lifted Leach to cover once again, Sam Curran holding on where Lawrence had erred.

Dickwella then turned a boundary-ball loosener from Bess into a catch at point for Dom Sibley before Bairstow’s painful blow on the boot bought him a third success.

Bess was finally allowed to celebrate some skill of his own when he beat Dilruwan through their air and off the pitch. A run-out at the non-striker’s end, via Leach’s fingertip, did for Lasith Embuldeniya as the innings lurched towards it grim conclusion – a botched reverse sweep from an overbalancing Hasaranga.

Jack Leach inadvertently ran out Lasith Embuldeniya after getting a tip of the finger on the ball

Jack Leach inadvertently ran out Lasith Embuldeniya after getting a tip of the finger on the ball

Sports