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Root century powers England to 344-5 at stumps on Day 1 at Lord’s

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England finished Day 1 of the first test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s on 344-5 thanks to a brilliant century from Joe Root (102*) who received valuable support from Moeen Ali (48) and Matt Prior (76*). England found themselves in tricky positions during the start of the first and second sessions but key partnerships at critical moments helped them finish the day with a modest score.

Earlier in the day, Angelo Mathews won the toss and decided that Sri Lanka would bowl first on a green surface on a beautiful day for cricket. Three debutants made their way into the England XI with Sam Robson, Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan all getting their Test caps from former England skipper Mike Gatting.

The English openers didn’t start very well and much of this was due to the discipline that the Lankan pacers displayed on a helpful track. There was plenty of movement early on but Alastair Cook and Sam Robson could not cash in even with the ball coming on nicely. Robson didn’t get the best of starts as he was caught behind off Nuwan Pradeep for just 1 run while Alastair Cook’s dismal form continued as he chopped one onto his offstump off Nuwan Kulasekera when on 17 to leave England a little nervous at 22-2.

Ian Bell, who is playing his 99th test match, joined Gary Ballance in the middle to ensure some stability in the English batting order. England scored at a healthy run-rate of just under 4 per over when Pradeep, who was largely impressive with the new ball in the 1st session, had Ballance (23) caught behind while playing back to a full-length delivery thus ending the 50-run partnership for the third wicket. Joe Root, who had a good outing the last time he played at this venue for England, joined Bell in the middle to make sure England didn't lose any more wickets till lunch.

Bell was unbeaten on 41 heading into the break, while Root had contributed 6 runs to England’s cause.

England didn’t get off to the best of starts after the break, losing the well set Ian Bell for 56 in the fourth over after lunch. Bell who compiled his 12th half-century at Lords, the most by any batsman at this ground, provided some shape to the English batting order before falling leg before to a full length delivery from Eranga. Initially the umpire didn’t raise the finger but the Lankans were smart to review the decision and the DRS quickly suggested that Bell needed to make the long walk back to the pavilion. England would have hoped for Bell to kick on and get a big one but it wasn’t to be, thus leaving them in a vulnerable position at 120-4.

Another wicket at that stage would have opened up possibilities of bowling England out cheaply but Moeen Ali, one of the three debutants playing for England in this test, joined Joe Root in the middle to rebuild the England innings and was quick to impress with a flurry of boundaries to kick off his innings. Later on, he would then get down on one knee and send the first ball he faced off crafty left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for six over cow corner. Joe Root (43*) looked equally composed at the other end and he along with Moeen Ali (43*) ensured England would go through to tea without losing any more wickets.

The Sri Lankan bowlers maintained discipline and shape while Angelo Mathews shuffled them around in short spells but nothing seemed to work as Root and Moeen continued to play well during their unbeaten stand of 75*.

England resumed batting after tea at 195-4 after a good second session that saw them lose just the one wicket of Ian Bell. The good work only continued in the third session with Joe Root celebrating his 3rd century in addition to featuring in an unbeaten 135 run partnership with Matt Prior, who also showed he was back in good form, with a well composed 76. Root brought up his second century at Lord’s and anchored the English innings responsibly. Prior answered questions that were being asked of him, his form and his selection over young Jos Buttler in this England XI by using all his experience to see England through to a good finish at the end of the day’s play along with Joe Root.

England sit strongly at 344-5 at stumps on day 1 with Root and Prior unbeaten in the middle. After a slightly nervy and shaky start, England did well to finish the day on a high and will be looking to post in excess of 500 to ensure that they do not need to bat a second time as they attempt to force a result from this test.

Mini Scorecard:

England 1st Innings, stumps 344-5 (89 overs, 3.86 rpo)

J Root 102*  N Pradeep 2-67 (17)

M Prior 76*  N Kulasekera 1-61 (20)