Sri Lanka’s bowling coach David Saker admitted that the home side had not been good enough to combat an authoritative Joe Root and failed to put pressure on debutant Dan Lawrence early in his innings, as England piled on a 180-run first innings lead to take command of the first Test by the end of the second day in Galle today.
Root, who carried on from his overnight score of 66, went on to reach his 18th Test century – his first since November 2019 – adding another 102 runs and remaining unbeaten when play ended early today.
Saker said Root had put pressure on the Sri Lankan bowlers by using the crease and manipulating the bowlers’ lengths.
“Joe is a seasoned player and he's got a really good game plan and he understands how to play spin really well. He looked so good and just him being so comfortable at the crease puts pressure on bowlers straight away.”
“He plays back quite deep so it’s hard to put pressure on him and then as soon as you try to get a bit fuller he uses his feet and hits down the ground,” Saker said. “He also sweeps very good, so he's always putting pressure on the bowler that way.”
“He's been very good at that and our guys haven't been good enough to combat him so that's been frustrating,” the fast-bowling coach said, adding that the bowlers also lacked consistency in bowling in the right areas.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers also had not done enough to make Lawrence uncomfortable when he came out to the crease early in the day, Saker added, after Lasith Embuldeniya accounted for the wicket of the other overnight batsman Jonny Bairstow.
“Our first ten deliveries to him were very poor. Obviously a person coming in on his debut you want to put as much pressure (as possible). In the first ten deliveries I think we bowled three full tosses and two or three half-trackers, which if you are on your debut and you're off your mark with ten off ten balls, you probably feel comfortable,” Saker opined.
“We didn’t make him feel uncomfortable at all. When you come to a place like Sri Lanka and you're making your debut and you've got a spinner with some fielders around the bat usually it's one of the most daunting places to come but we gifted him some easy balls to get his innings going and he looked comfortable at the crease.”
Saker believed that Sri Lanka still had a chance of winning the Test, but only if they dismissed the last six English batsmen as early as possible tomorrow.
“Obviously it’s been a tough couple of days for us and we're probably a long way behind the game. The best way we can approach it is just start tomorrow as fresh as we can and get these six wickets as quick as we can and get our batters back in and try to make sure we put a good account of ourselves with the bat. Who knows when day four and five come around if we can be somewhere in front of the English team you never know (what might happen).”
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