Dhananjaya de Silva’s 91 drags Sri Lanka to a respectable total after top-order collapse
Innings break – Sri Lanka 241 for 9 (Dhananjaya 91, Shanaka 47, S Curran 5-48, Willey 4-64) vs England
Sri Lanka simply had no answer for the swinging ball early on, with Curran the chief purveyor at his home ground. At one point, he had taken three wickets for three runs in 1.3 overs.
Willey had an lbw decision overturned on the fourth ball of the day, Pathum Nissanka successful with his review, which showed he had edged the ball onto his pad. But Curran struck four balls later, removing Kusal Perera for a second-ball duck.
By the end of the second over, Sri Lanka looked in disarray at 6 for 2 after Curran also pinned Avishka Fernando – unexpectedly back in the side after initially being ruled out of the series because of a thigh injury – with a ball that shaped back in and hit him in line with leg stump.
Things got worse for the visiting side when Curran claimed his third, nailing Nissanka’s middle stump with a big inswinger that beat the inside edge. That brought Dhananjaya to the middle.
Dhananjaya passed a late fitness test after suffering back spasms to inject some experience in a Sri Lanka side which had blooded three players in the five-wicket loss at Durham on Tuesday. Two of those debutants – Dhananjaya Lakshan and Praveen Jayawickrama – made way in this match, as did Ramesh Mendis.
A short ball from Willey lured a mistimed pull from Charith Asalanka – the only debutant from Chester-le-Street to hold his place – which sailed straight to George Garton, the substitute fielder at short midwicket while Eoin Morgan was off the field briefly. With seven overs bowled, Sri Lanka were 21 for 4.
Dhananjaya and Hasaranga got to work in their attempt to salvage the innings, the former showing strong intent as he helped himself to boundaries off Willey and Curran down the ground, through midwicket and to the off side.
They took Sri Lanka to 47 for 4 by the end of the first powerplay and, despite a near-miss when taking a single – Dhananjaya was caught ball-watching and was nearly run out as well as almost colliding with Jonny Bairstow – they survived. In fact, it was Bairstow who came off worse when he took Curran’s wild throw awkwardly on the left thumb and needed it taped before carrying on.
Hasaranga offered an early chance, edging a back-of-a-length ball from Mark Wood to Bairstow off the shoulder of the bat, but was put down as the keeper flung himself high to his right. He then hit two fours off a Curran over, pulled soundly over midwicket and driven gorgeously through cover, but it was a Curran bouncer that did him in as he took it on and picked out Sam Billings at deep square leg for 26, having put on 65 runs with Dhananjaya.
Dhananjaya reached his fifty off 58 deliveries and, three balls later, Shanaka brought up the team 100 in the 25th, launching Curran for a powerful six over wide long-on.
Willey finally ended Dhananjaya’s stay, nine runs shy of his century, with a short ball pulled poorly in the direction of deep square leg, where Joe Root snaffled the catch.
Shanaka fell to Willey, cutting another short delivery to Curran just inside the rope at cover point, and Curran claimed his fifth wicket with a bouncer that Chamika Karunaratne tried to pull, only to see it loop behind him and into Bairstow’s waiting gloves, Curran laughing and shouting “yes!” in celebration.
Willey found himself on a hat-trick when he added Binura Fernando’s wicket, well caught by Adil Rashid running in from fine leg, to that of Shankaka, taken on the last ball of his previous spell. Dushmantha Chameera denied him and then struck him for six over long-on as he saw out the innings unbeaten on 14.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo