LONDON: Jonny Bairstow rode his luck to again rescue England from a top-order collapse with a century on the first day of the third Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s on Thursday.
At stumps, England were 279 for six having been 84 for four when Bairstow (107 not out) came to the crease.
It had been a similar story when Bairstow revived England from the depths of 83 for five in the first Test with a superb 140 on his Headingley home ground, in a match England eventually won by an innings and 88 runs.
Apart from Bairstow, only England captain Alastair Cook (85) who won the toss in sunny conditions ideal for batting, passed fifty on Thursday with Chris Woakes 23 not out at stumps.
Sri Lanka performed admirably with the ball albeit they were again sloppy in the field on a good pitch where there was a touch of seam movement.
Suranga Lakmal and Pradeep shared four wickets while impressive left-arm spinner Rangana Herath rook an economical two for 45 in 21 overs.
England had already won this three-Test series at 2-0 up.
Cook who last time out became the first England batsman to score 10,000 Test runs and fellow opener Alex Hales compiled a serene fifty stand in 74 balls.
But Herath struck with just his fourth ball when Hales (18) slogging across the line of a ball that turned was caught by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews at slip.
Nick Compton, England’s number three on his Middlesex home ground, fell for one when he was caught behind off a gentle Lakmal away swinger.
Lakmal struck again when he had Joe Root (three) lbw And when Pradeep bowled James Vince (10) England were 84 for four.
Left-handed opener Cook was closing in on his 29th Test century when shortly before tea, he was plumb lbw to Pradeep. Moeen Ali fresh from his Test best 155 not out at the Riverside, followed Hales in falling to the Herath-Mathews combination for 25. Bairstow strong off his pads and on the drive cut Pradeep for four to go to 94 before a single off Herath saw him to a 160-ball century.
Courtesy : TheNews