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Curran blitz and a peach from Leach ensure England finish day one on a high

by Taha Hashim 5 minute read

Sam Curran starred for England with the bat, striking a superb 64 to help spare England’s blushes and take them to a respectable total of 285 against Sri Lanka on day one of the second Test in Kandy.

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The young Surrey all-rounder has carved out a reputation for rescuing his side just seven Test matches into his fledgling career, and England’s top order will be in debt to him after his lower-order hitting confirmed once more that he is a once-in-a-generation talent.

 

Curran was able to build from a platform established by the excellent Buttler. Minds would have been cast back to England’s first day at Galle, after they fell to 89-4 with all of Sri Lanka’s frontline bowlers among the wickets. Rory Burns battled hard for 43 from 81 deliveries on a turning wicket, but it was Buttler who was to hold up the England batting.

Deciding to play square of the wicket, Buttler went after Sri Lanka’s spinners with the sweep and reverse sweep almost exclusively. While he departed with his side 171-7, it was a case of handing over the mantle to the ever-impressive Curran.

Initially watchful, Curran played second-fiddle to Adil Rashid, whose batting has impressed over the two Tests. Once Rashid departed after tea, Curran went into another gear. Unlike Buttler, he seemed intent on dispatching the ball back over the bowler’s heads, smashing the ball down the ground, with Dananjaya bearing most of the brunt.

A six over square leg brought up a stunning half-century, rubbing soil into the wounds of a Sri Lankan side frustrated at their inability to defeat the rearguard of the England tail.

Curran would eventually fall for 64, but it seems only a matter of time before he reaches a maiden Test and first-class hundred. With England’s top-order struggles continuing, a promotion up the order may beckon.

After finishing on 285, Sri Lanka’s openers were sent in to negate a tricky period prior to the close of play. Jack Leach and Moeen Ali were introduced early by Root as conditions dictated the need for spin and the decision was vindicated not soon after.

Leach churned out a dreamy delivery for any left-arm spinner, with drift and turn taking the top of Kaushal Silva’s off stump. At stumps, Sri Lanka were 26-1.

England will resume tomorrow hoping for some more magic from Leach, with him, Moeen and Rashid likely to play key roles in maintaining a first-innings lead.

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