Sam Underhill is the latest player to withdraw from England's Six Nations squad due to a hip injury.

Jack Willis has been called up as a replacement for back-row Underhill, who is another big loss for the defending champions.

Underhill played a big part in England's Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup triumphs last year but sustained an injury blow before he was due to link up with the squad at St. George's Park on Wednesday.

Willis made his Test debut against Georgia last November and will be hoping to make his Six Nations bow in the coming weeks.

Underhill's withdrawal comes a day after Joe Launchbury and Joe Marler were ruled out due to a fibula stress fracture and personal reasons respectively.

England head coach Eddie Jones' preparations had already been disrupted last week when he was forced to go into self-isolation after his assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for coronavirus.

The Red Rose start the defence of their title against Scotland at Twickenham a week on Saturday.

Joe Root felt England's calmness under pressure was the key to securing victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka – but insisted there is still room for improvement ahead of the tour to India. 

England trailed after both teams had batted once in Galle, yet four wickets apiece for spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach helped turn the game their way. 

Sri Lanka rather self-destructed with the bat – something Root revealed the tourists had hoped to bring about by "creating a bit of chaos" - and left their opponents needing just 164 to seal a 2-0 series sweep. 

Dom Sibley anchored the chase, scoring 56 not out having managed only six runs combined in his three previous knocks, while Jos Buttler made an unbeaten 46 to help complete a six-wicket triumph. 

"It was a fine performance in this game. To come out on top having lost the toss on a wicket that, for the majority of the game, we had the worst part of is a testament to the character of the boys," Root said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

"In that second innings, at the back end, it was about dealing with pressure. I thought a number of guys in a very difficult run chase showed a lot of maturity, calmness and poise to see us home. It's a brilliant way to finish the series.

"When we came to bowl, it was about creating a bit of chaos, making it difficult for Sir Lanka to score boundaries.

"We knew if we could build pressure and try and really squeeze the game, we'd create opportunities on that surface. Thankfully, that worked out for us."

He added: "The one thing I'm proud of within our group is how calm we were; how clear we were over how we were going to score runs on that wicket in that chase."

England have little time to bask in their latest success, however, as they head on to India for a four-Test series. For Root, the aim is to keep on progressing during what is a hectic 2021 schedule.

Still, they have won five successive Test matches overseas for the first time since 1914, while they will be boosted by the return of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes in India. Rory Burns is also available again; the opening batsman missed the Sri Lanka trip to be present for the birth of his first child.

"As a team, we are moving forward all the time. We are on a little bit of an upward curve and we've just got to keep on looking to get better," Root - who scored 426 runs in the series at an average of 106.5 - said.

"With four more Tests to come on this tour for us, it's really important we don't stand still. We are not happy with what we have achieved so far, we will keep looking to improve all the time. 

"There will be different challenges, different surfaces to deal with and situations to manage in the coming games, but can we have that same attitude, that same desire to want to improve all the time."

The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Monday that New Zealand will visit in June, playing Root's side in Tests at Lord's and Edgbaston.

England will also play three Twenty20 fixtures and a trio of one-day games against Sri Lanka. 

England wrapped up an impressive six-wicket victory to complete a series sweep after a dramatic Sri Lanka collapse on day four of the second Test. 

Dom Sibley finished up unbeaten on 56 as he and Jos Buttler (46 not out) saw the tourists to a target of 164, the pair putting on a pivotal stand worth 75 after coming together with their team wobbling in the run chase. 

Lasith Embuldeniya claimed three of the wickets to fall as he finished with match figures of 10-210, but Sri Lanka were left to regret a shoddy batting display that saw them all out for 126 in 35.5 overs. 

England added just five runs in the morning before their first innings was wrapped up at 344, meaning Sri Lanka came out to bat again with a useful lead of 37 on a dry, turning pitch. 

However, Dom Bess and Jack Leach claimed four wickets apiece, aided by some questionable shot choices, as Sri Lanka lost the plot. They were reeling on 78-8 when debutant Ramesh Mendis was caught behind for 16 - the top score for the hosts at the time.

Embuldeniya made 40 - easily a career-best knock in all formats - thanks to six fours and a solitary six, while the more reserved Suranga Lakmal (11 not out) was happy to hang around. Eventually, Joe Root came on to claim the final two wickets in just 11 deliveries, leaving England chasing 164. 

The busy Embuldeniya was soon centre stage again as Sri Lanka chipped away to retain hope, Zak Crawley (13), Jonny Bairstow - who made 28 in a hurry - and Dan Lawrence (2) all falling to the left-arm spinner. 

Mendis claimed the prized wicket of Root, bowled off an inside edge trying to play a paddle sweep for 11, but Sibley and Buttler combined to calm any nerves, seeing their team over the finishing line with ease in the end. 

The victory means England have won five successive overseas Test matches for the first time since 1914 - they will hope to continue that run when they head to India next.

Joe Root treated his England team-mates to an education in how to play spin bowling following his domination of the Sri Lanka attack, says Jos Buttler.

Captain Root backed up his 228 in the first Test victory with a monumental 186 in Galle on Sunday, falling cruelly to a run out from the final ball of the day.

Oshada Fernando's quick thinking at short leg meant England closed day three on 339-9 - a first-innings deficit of 42.

Despite that giving Sri Lanka a slight edge in their bid to secure a series-levelling win, attention afterwards understandably focused upon Root, who passed Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower to go fourth on England's all-time list of Test run scorers over the course of a fabulous knock.

"It was quite an amazing innings," Buttler said. "To back up his double hundred in the first Test, to show the mental and physical application to go again.

"It's been a masterclass in batting against spin. It's been a great education for all of us watching from the sidelines.

"We've thoroughly enjoyed watching him and we're gutted for him getting out in that fashion at the end of the day."

Buttler, who was the only other England batsman to pass 50, shared a 97-run stand with Root for the fifth wicket and also marvelled at his skipper's powers of endurance.

The 30-year-old Root motored on during the evening session despite cramps and back pain demonstrating the toll taken.

"For all eight days of the series so far he's been out on the field," Buttler said. "This game feels a lot hotter and lot more draining than the first game, [which had] rain breaks.

"We have to praise not only the tactical and technical aspect of his game, but the physicality and concentration to apply himself for so long.

"Once again, to back up the first Test is quite amazing really."

Lasith Embuldeniya carried the fight for Sri Lanka with superb figures of 7-132, but even the in-form slow left-armer could not escape punishment from Root, who swept with authority and even unfurled an audacious switch hit to fine effect.

"There were some quite amazing shots, really," added Buttler, who is consistently England's most innovative strokemaker across all formats. "It show the confidence and the skill level is amazing.

"He even played a little late cut left-handed. It's been great to watch. His skill level is second to none."

England captain Joe Root was denied a second consecutive double century when he was run out for 186 from the final ball of day three in a gripping second Test against Sri Lanka.

The great Wally Hammond remains the only Englishman in history to have passed 200 in consecutive matches, although Root looked certain to join him as he took the fight to the hosts in majestic fashion

Root is now fourth in England's list of all-time Test runs scorers, having surpassed Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower over the course of a truly magnificent knock, which accounts for the bulk of England's 339-9 – a first-innings deficit of 42.

Before Oshada Fernando collected sharply at short leg to catch the visiting skipper out of his ground, this was another England innings that pitted two supreme performers at the top of their game against one another, with Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya taking 7-132 in a near lone response to Root's brilliance.

Embuldeniya's wide angle on the crease and ability to find biting turn accounted for openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley on day two, and he saw off Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence in similar fashion on Sunday.

Bairstow could only add four to his overnight 24 after a review showed a faint inside edge onto pad that was pouched by Oshada, while Lawrence nicked a beauty to Lahiru Thirimanne at first slip.

Root's immaculate sweep shot meant he was able to largely avoid such problems, even punishing the excellent Embuldeniya with his audacious switch hit.

Substantial support for the captain finally arrived in the form of Jos Buttler, whose crunching off-side drive and reverse sweep were in good order during a fifth-wicket partnership of 97.

Somewhat unfortunately, the latter shot would prove Buttler's downfall after lunch when, on 55, he struck a delivery from debutant Ramesh Mendis (1-48) into his boot and it looped up for the ever-alert Osada to catch.

The Thirimanne-Embuldeniya combination accounted for Sam Curran, Dom Bess and Mark Wood, although Bess played tidily for an important 32 in a stand of 81 as Root motored on despite beginning to struggle with cramps and back pain.

It was a monumental effort over the course of 309 deliveries that did not deserve its cruel sting in the tail.

Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow came to England's rescue after Sri Lanka again tortured the tourists' openers with spin, leaving the second Test well poised in Galle.

Sri Lanka advanced from their overnight 229-4 to 381 all out, with James Anderson snagging 6-40, before Lasith Embuldeniya reduced England to 5-2 in their first innings.

They recovered to reach the close on 98-2, with captain Root (67 not out) and ally Bairstow (24no) showing cool-headed resilience, although the latter survived a precarious lbw call just before the close.

Root, in his 99th Test, went beyond fellow Yorkshire great Geoff Boycott's career haul of 8,114 runs at this level during his unflappable innings, going sixth on England's all-time list.

By contrast to the third-wicket pair, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley have found left-arm spinner Embuldeniya almost unplayable in this series.

The 24-year-old removed both openers for single-figure scores in each innings of the first Test and on this occasion he prised out Sibley for a duck and Crawley for just five.

Sibley was back on his stumps, floundering, when Embuldeniya breached his defences to get the lbw verdict, and Crawley was prised out by a delicious delivery that caught the edge and angled into the hands of Lahiru Thirimanne at first slip.

It means Sibley has made just six runs in three innings, Crawley faring little better with only 22 so far on this tour.

Fortunately for England, the Yorkshire pair of Root and Bairstow brought their experience to bear and found a way to exert control, pushing and prodding but mostly sweeping and reverse-sweeping their way to stability.

Anderson had earlier caught the eye once again, the 38-year-old producing figures that statistically rank as the fourth best of his Test career.

Already armed with three wickets from day one, Anderson made a swift impact in the morning by having century maker Angelo Mathews caught by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler for 110 in the second over of the day.

Niroshan Dickwella weighed in with 92 before falling to Anderson as he and Dilruwan Perera (67) put Sri Lanka in a sturdy position.

 

England caught in a spin

While Anderson was going through his majestic repertoire, Jack Leach and Dom Bess toiled for a combined 0-195 from 64 overs.

They were made to look limited by Sri Lanka's batsmen, who handled the England spin pair far more adeptly than during the first Test, when together they snagged 14 wickets.

This time there was no penetration, but Sri Lanka's premier spinner Embuldeniya immediately found zip, accuracy and effective turn, humiliating England's top two batsmen once again.

Crawley made 267 against Pakistan at Southampton last August, and he has one innings left in Galle to show his true quality.

Kevin Pietersen was moved to post to Twitter a letter he once received from Rahul Dravid on how to play spin, urging England management to pass the guidance to the openers.

Remarkable Root

England's skipper made a double century in the first Test against Sri Lanka, and again he soon got on top of the home side's attack.

He struck seven boundaries in reaching his fifty, never looking in trouble.

Sri Lanka appealed for an lbw when Root offered no shot to a turning ball from Dilruwan Perera, but the ball started out so wide that it was always missing by a long way.

England will want more of the same from Root on Sunday, and should that be forthcoming this could turn into quite some match.

Target: Bairstow

Sri Lanka will want to break up the established partnership as early as possible on day three, with Bairstow looking the more vulnerable batsman.

If Embuldeniya finds his choice line early in the day, he will fancy removing the man who England have surprisingly chosen to rest for their upcoming series with India.

Wasps back Paolo Odogwu and Bristol scrum-half Harry Randall have won their first England call-ups for the Six Nations.

Bath prop Beno Obano is the third uncapped player to be named by Eddie Jones in the 28-man squad.

Courtney Lawes returns from injury, while Mako Vunipola, who last played in the Autumn Nations Cup final win over France, will join the squad for rehabilitation but be unavailable for selection.

Wasps flanker Jack Willis and Bath's Jonathan Joseph only make the 12-man shadow squad, while Kyle Sinckler, who is banned for the opening game against Scotland on February 6, is not in either group.

Owen Farrell will retain his position as captain.

The squad will meet up at St. George's Park on January 27, with coach Jones, who is isolating after assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for coronavirus, set to arrive a day later.

"This has been a really tough squad to pick and I know there are a lot of disappointed players who haven't been selected," said Jones.

"We're really excited by the players we have got, it's a very vibrant squad and are looking forward to getting started next week.

"We're very grateful to the Premiership Rugby, the clubs and RPA [Rugby Players Association] for allowing us to have 28 players throughout the tournament, we're very happy with the number and it's testament to the growing relationships between all parties.

"Ultimately our goal is to win the Six Nations and to do that we'll need to work hard and prepare well each day and take it as it comes."

England squad:

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Beno Obano, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.

Backs: Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Jonny May, Paolo Odogwu, Harry Randall, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.

Shadow squad: Charlie Atkinson, Ali Crossdale, Tom Dunn, Charlie Ewels, George Furbank, Joe Heyes, Jonathan Joseph, Joe Marchant, George Martin, Alex Mitchell, Jacob Umaga, Jack Willis.

Angelo Mathews lifted Sri Lanka out of trouble with a superb century on day one of the second Test against England.

A collapse to 135 all out in their first innings was the main cause of Sri Lanka's defeat in last week's first game of the two-match rubber and they found themselves in early strife once more in Galle.

James Anderson (3-24) returned to lead the England attack and removed Kusal Perera and Oshada Fernando, the latter for nought, to leave the hosts 7-2.

But Mathews (107 not out) made the most of favourable batting conditions to lay the foundations for an imposing total, finding willing allies in Lahiru Thirimanne (43) and captain Dinesh Chandimal (52) and lead a recovery to 229-4 at stumps.

England's attack toiled hard after Joe Root lost the toss but they caused problems early on, with Sam Curran having a huge lbw shout against Kusal in the second over before Anderson added to his 600 Test wickets.

Recalled in place of long-time new ball partner Stuart Broad as England juggled their seam options with an eye on their forthcoming tour of India, Anderson persuaded Kusal into a ludicrously expansive hack that he edged to Root at slip.

Oshada was recalled to the Sri Lanka side after four ducks in five innings for Kusal Mendis, only to suffer the same fate as he edged a lifting delivery onto his stumps.

Thirimanne scored a century in the first Test, although his fine form was ultimately insufficient to repel his nemesis Anderson, who moved a ball beautifully away to encourage an edge behind and dismiss the opener for an eighth time in Tests.

Sri Lanka were 76-3 shortly after lunch at that stage. Mathews' alliance with Chandimal was certainly timely and they were able to milk England spin due Jack Leach and Dom Bess with minimal risk.

Paceman Mark Wood was the only bowler to offer sustained discomfort to each, both mentally and physically as he frequently touched 90 mph.

The over after Anderson fumbled a run-out chance at mid-on, Wood had his reward - pinning Chandimal with an in-swinger the batsman's review showed was thundering into leg stump.

Unperturbed by the end of that 117-run stand, Mathews brought up an 11th Test ton with a single off Leach and will resume alongside Niroshan Dickwella (19 not out) in the hope of kicking on to something even more substantial.

Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood have not been included in the England squad for the opening two Tests against India.

Batsman Bairstow, all-rounder Curran and paceman Wood have been rested and will fly home after the ongoing Test series in Sri Lanka along with quick Craig Overton.

Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns are back in the squad for a series that starts at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on February 5.

Fast bowler Archer and all-rounder Stokes did not travel to Sri Lanka as they were given a break, while opening batsman Burns stayed at home for the birth of his first child.

Batsman Ollie Pope will fly out to India and be added to a 16-man squad when he has fully recovered from a shoulder operation.

The national selectors have also named six travelling reserves, three of which are spinners, for the series against an India side on a high from a dramatic 2-1 victory in Australia.

 

England squad for first two Tests against India: 

Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Reserves:

James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

England have replaced Stuart Broad with James Anderson as they aim to clinch a fourth successive series victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

A seven-wicket win in Galle gave the tourists a 1-0 lead in the rearranged series, following on from an overseas triumph in South Africa a year ago, plus successes against West Indies and Pakistan on home soil.

Joe Root led from the front with a double-century last time out and, with the recalled Jonny Bairstow and debutant Dan Lawrence also contributing runs, the tourists have gone with the same batting line-up.

Anderson comes into the side as England make just the one change, with Broad given a rest, as Mark Wood retains his place and Olly Stone misses out along with Chris Woakes. 

As for Sri Lanka, they will once again be without Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne as he continues to recover from a fractured thumb.

Kusal Mendis has been dropped after a poor run of form with the bat – he has managed just 27 runs in his last six Test innings – while seam duo Lahiru Kumara and Nuwan Pradeep, as well as wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka, have been allowed to depart the bio-secure bubble.

The home side will be aiming to prevent their opponents from winning a fifth successive Test overseas, a feat England have not achieved since a run of seven in a row between 1911 and 1914.

Sri Lanka fought back well after being dismissed for only 135 in their first innings of the opening Test and captain Root knows England cannot expect to have things all their own way as they eye another triumph on tour.

He said: "They are a proud team and they have a great record at this ground. Not only that, they have some very talented players.

"We already saw that throughout the game with how it unfolded in the second innings. The way that they played with the bat in the second innings was very different to the first and showed that in those conditions, they are a very hard side to break down.

"We know that this isn't going to be an easy game for us."


LEACH IN SIGHT OF RECORD

Jack Leach was understandably a little rusty in the previous game, having only played in two first-class fixtures throughout 2020. However, the left-arm spinner improved as he clocked up the overs, claiming 5-122 in the second innings to leave England needing just 74 for victory.

His six in the match lifted his career Test tally in Sri Lanka to 24, just one behind Ashley Giles who sits top of the all-time list for England. Considering it is expected to be another spin-friendly surface in Galle, Leach will fancy his chances of taking top spot before the short tour concludes.

SRI LANKA AIM TO STOP THE ROT

Despite showing some defiance with both bat and ball in the opening Test, Sri Lanka have now lost three in a row. They have not suffered a longer losing run since a four-game span between December 2015 and May 2016.

Their first-innings total of 135 left them with too much ground to make up second time around, so the continued absence of opener Karunaratne is a blow.

KEY MATCH FACTS

- England will be looking to record a third successive Test series win against Sri Lanka for the first time.
- England have lost only one of their Tests since the start of 2020 (W7, D2) and are undefeated in their last six of that stretch (W4, D2) – the last time they went on a longer unbeaten run was a 13-Test span (W7, D6) from November 2012 to August 2013.
- Joe Root made 228 last time out, his maiden Test double-century in Asia. That innings included 74 runs from conventional sweep shots, almost twice the number of his previous high in a Test match (41 at Pallekele versus Sri Lanka in November 2018).
- Lahiru Thirimanne has scored 50 or more in two of his past three Test innings at Galle, after doing so only once in his previous 12 knocks at the venue.
- Jos Buttler held on to all five catching opportunities in the series opener; only once before in his Test career has he managed to claim more catches without dropping one (July 2014 v India – 6/6).

England head coach Eddie Jones is self-isolating after assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for coronavirus.

England Rugby announced on Wednesday that Proudfoot, who is asymptomatic, returned a positive in the latest round of pre-tournament testing ahead of the Six Nations and is now in isolation.

Jones and attack coach Simon Amor were identified as close contacts and must also self-isolate for 10 days, as per United Kingdom government guidelines.

Should they return further negative tests, Jones and Amor will be able to link up with the squad at St George's Park from January 28.

England, who are set to name their squad on Friday, are due to begin the defence of their Six Nations title against Scotland at Twickenham on February 6.

Jones is expected to name a 28-man selection featuring mostly established international players, with strict COVID-19 bubble arrangements meaning he cannot call up a larger group and allow those needing game time to return to their club sides.

England may not have had their usual level of support on hand to witness their Test victory in Galle, but Joe Root still took the time to thank one touring fan for his dedication to the cause. 

Rob Lewis had travelled to Sri Lanka in March 2020 to watch Root's side in action, only for that series to be cancelled at short notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, rather than return home, Lewis opted to stay put, a decision he made in the hope the abandoned series would be completed at a later date. 

"I thought, 'Oh, this coronavirus will be a month. I'll stay in for that month and then see what happens'. But it rumbled on... there's never been a point where I thought I should go home," he explained in an interview with The Times.

So, while the Barmy Army were unable to attend in their typically high numbers due to travel restrictions amid the continued global health crisis, there was still one visiting spectator there to witness England's seven-wicket triumph in the first of two Tests on the rearranged trip. 

Root had acknowledged Lewis – watching the action unfold from the famous Galle Fort that overlooks the cricket ground – when reaching his double century on day three, and he went one step further after the game had come to a conclusion.

Having completed his media duties, the England skipper put in a phone call to thank Lewis personally, as shown by the team's official Twitter account. 

"We really appreciate your support. It's an incredible story and journey that you've been on over the last year or so," Root said during the conversation. 

"So, more than anything, I just wanted to say a massive thank you. We really appreciate you being here and making the effort to come down and support us. 

"It's a real pleasure for us to be able to enjoy this with you, so thank you very much."

England have now won four successive overseas Tests for the first time since 1957, while Root has posted 24 victories during his captaincy reign, leaving only two behind Michael Vaughan's all-time team record. 

Lewis is seemingly set to stick around a little longer for the second match in the series, with the second Test starting on Friday at the same venue. 

Joe Root praised the character shown by his bowling attack – particularly spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach – but hopes England can still get better after securing victory over Sri Lanka in Galle.

England had suffered an early wobble when chasing just 74 in the fourth innings of the first Test, slipping to 14-3 at one stage. 

However, resuming the fifth day needing a further 36, they reached their nominal target without any further losses, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence guiding them home with an unbroken stand of 62. 

Bess and Leach had laid the foundations with five-wicket hauls in the contest, as England clinched a fourth successive Test triumph overseas – their best run in the format since 1957.

"To come here with the little preparation we've had, and play in the manner that we have throughout this game, has been really impressive," Root said at the presentation ceremony. 

"I thought it was a great effort yesterday (on day four). Not a lot fell for us but we worked extremely hard.

"For the two spinners to come out of the game with five-fors is a brilliant effort, especially with such little cricket that they have played coming into a series like this when the pressure is on. 

"It's always tough, but without preparation it is a testament to their characters. The whole bowling group in general, to perform like we did after lunch (on day four) in particular, was a really good effort. 

"It's a good start to the tour, but we know that we've got to keep getting better – and we will keep looking to do that. But I'm really pleased with the start that we've had." 

Root was unsurprisingly named man of the match following his double century in England's first innings, having failed to reach three figures in Test action in 2020. 

"The exciting thing, I think, is that there's still more to come from the group," he added. "The most important thing is we have that attitude during this winter tour and going into the next Test match." 

Stand-in Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal, deputising in the absence of the injured Dimuth Karunaratne, admitted the hosts simply left themselves with too much to do after they were bowled out for just 135 after winning the toss on day one. 

Lahiru Thirimanne made a hundred in Sri Lanka's second innings and while Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews also weighed in with half-centuries, their spinners did not have enough runs to work with on a dry, turning pitch. 

"I think it was a crucial toss to win, but the first innings cost us the game," Chandimal said. "You have to get a big total in the first innings, so that cost us on this kind of track.  

"Credit to Thirimanne, Angelo, Kusal, everyone did their bit as a batting unit in the second innings. Another 70-80 runs it could have been a different story." 

Sri Lanka will have the chance to draw level in the second and final Test of the series, which begins on Friday at the same venue.

England wrapped up a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle on Monday.

Jonny Bairstow (35 not out) and Dan Lawrence (unbeaten 21) saw the tourists past their target of 74 early on day five after a brief top-order scare on Sunday.

The victory saw England extend their unbeaten streak against Sri Lanka in Tests to seven matches (W6 D1).

It was a win set up by Dom Bess' five-for in the first innings and Joe Root's 228, while Jack Leach took 5-122 in the second innings.

Lawrence survived a couple of lbw shouts on the final day, including a review, but his unbroken 62-run fourth-wicket stand with Bairstow saw England to victory.

The second and final Test begins on Friday.

England lost early wickets in their run chase but remain on course for victory in the first Test against Sri Lanka, finishing day four on 38-3 in pursuit of a target of 74. 

Having battled hard to make 359 all out in their second innings, Sri Lanka gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Lasith Embuldeniya quickly removed England openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley. 

The run out of captain Joe Root, who was called through for a single that was never on before falling over as he dived to unsuccessfully make his ground, left the tourists teetering at 20-3. 

However, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence steadied the nerves, seeing England through to stumps without any further setbacks. The duo will resume on day five needing a further 36 to seal the series opener. 

Sri Lanka will be left cursing their first-innings shortcomings with the bat, particularly after a second Test hundred from Lahiru Thirimanne underpinned a far-improved display second time around. 

England did remove nightwatchman Embuldeniya early but were made to work hard for wickets after that, Jack Leach the pick of the attack as he finished with figures of 5-122. 

Sam Curran eventually ended Thirimanne's defiance when the opener had 111 to his name, while the hosts were still in deficit when stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal edged Dom Bess (3-100) to Root at first slip.  

The same bowler accounted for Niroshan Dickwella, who made 29, but Angelo Mathews proved to be a familiar thorn in England's side. 

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler secured his first stumping in Test cricket as some smart glovework ended a lively cameo from Dilruwan Perera (24), while Mathews was the last man out midway through the final session.  

The former Sri Lanka skipper had battled for nearly six hours before Leach tempted him into a leaden-footed drive, ending his resistance on 71. England appeared frenetic at the start of their chase on a dry, turning surface, but will still be confident of completing the job on Monday.


TON-DERFUL MOMENT FOR THIRIMANNE

Thirimanne's previous Test century also came at the same venue; he made 155 not out against Bangladesh back in March 2013. The left-handed opener may not have featured in this match had captain Dimuth Karunaratne not been ruled out with a fractured thumb, but he seized his opportunity.

In total, he faced 251 deliveries and hit 12 boundaries, helping at least restore some pride for Sri Lanka after they had been dismissed for 135 on a dismal opening day.

LEACH STICKS TO HIS TASK

Leach had not played in a Test since November 2019, since when an illness and the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted him to just two first-class appearances. The left-arm spinner could be forgiven for a little rustiness, then.

However, he stuck manfully to his task during the innings, sending down 41.5 overs to claim his second five-wicket haul in Tests. His other also came against Sri Lanka, at Pallekele back in November 2018.
 

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