LONDON, (Reuters) – England’s Jonny Bairstow compiled his first century at Lord’s — and his second of the series — to ensure the hosts completed a satisfactory first day of the final test against Sri Lanka yesterday, finishing at 279 for six.
Captain Alastair Cook earlier fell for 85, shy of his 29th test century, as the tourists hit back before tea but Bairstow, in the form of his life, ensured England regained control in the final session, scoring his third test hundred of the year.
Yorkshireman Bairstow, who scored 140 in the opening test and has chalked up more runs than anyone in first-class cricket over the past 12 months, was unbeaten at the close on 107, compiled off 164 balls with 13 fours.
Yet Sri Lanka, who had at one point reduced England to 84 for four and looked in the mood to make a game of it, having lost the first two tests of the series, will kick themselves for not snapping up Bairstow’s wicket.
He was dropped by Shaminda Eranga at mid-wicket when he was on 11, could easily have been run out later and then survived the closest of lbw reviews off Eranga on 56.
Bairstow, who narrowly missed a place on the Lord’s honours board when dismissed for 95 against South Africa four years ago, made no mistake this time, pushing Rangana Herath to leg side to reach three figures off 160 balls before roaring in delight.
“It feels like it should have happened a few years ago,” said a smiling Bairstow. “It’s something every boy dreams about. You could see I was pretty emotional.
“I’m enjoying my cricket and hopefully people are enjoying watching my cricket.”
Cook and Bairstow did the most to steer the hosts away from trouble but the captain was undone by a beauty from seamer Nuwan Pradeep after reaching a serene 85.
Angling one in, Pradeep trapped Cook plumb lbw to swing the day back towards the visitors after he and Bairstow put on 50.
It was Pradeep’s second wicket of the day after he had bowled James Vince in the fourth over after lunch for 10.
England won the toss on a beautiful sunny morning and elected to bat on a pitch that looked ripe for scoring.
Cook, presented with a silver bat before the match after becoming the first English batsman to reach 10,000 test runs, helped England ease comfortably through the first hour.
Sri Lanka looked headed for a hard day when Cook and Alex Hales reached the 50 mark in the 12th over.
By lunch the hosts were 74 for three, though, after losing the wickets of Hales, Nick Compton and Joe Root.
Sri Lanka’s slow left-armer Rangana Herath and medium pacer Angelo Mathews strangled the scoring rate to a trickle and Hales lost patience after failing to get a run for 22 deliveries.
He swung wildly across the line and edged Herath to a grateful Mathews in the 19th over with the score on 56.
Compton walked in under pressure after a torrid series so far but lasted 11 balls before edging a full delivery by Suranga Lakmal to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal having scored one.
The morning got even better for Sri Lanka when Lakmal trapped Joe Root lbw for three — the decision going to the third umpire after Root was originally given not out.
England 1st innings
A. Cook lbw b Pradeep 85
A. Hales c Mathews b Herath 18
N. Compton c Chandimal b Lakmal 1
J. Root lbw b Lakmal 3
J. Vince b Pradeep 10
J. Bairstow not out 107
M. Ali c Mathews b Herath 25
C. Woakes not out 23
Extras (lb-7) 7
Total (for 6 wickets, 90 overs) 279
Fall of wickets: 1-56 A. Hales,2-67 N. Compton,3-71 J. Root,4-84 J. Vince,5-164 A. Cook,6-227 M. Ali To bat: S. Broad, S. Finn, J. Anderson Bowling S. Eranga 20 – 2 – 63 – 0 S. Lakmal 19 – 2 – 66 – 2 N. Pradeep 20 – 4 – 79 – 2 A. Mathews 10 – 5 – 19 – 0 R. Herath 21 – 4 – 45 – 2 Referees Umpire: Sundaram Ravi Umpire: Rod Tucker TV umpire: Aleem Dar Match referee: Andy Pycroft