Rishabh Pant has revealed he took on a jaw-dropping reverse sweep against James Anderson because he felt it was a day when he could do no wrong.

Test cricket's most prolific pace bowler was staggered to be carved away to the boundary in such an unorthodox manner, as India got the better of England on day two in Ahmedabad.

Anderson had only just taken the new ball and had seen it already thrashed to the boundary by Pant from successive balls.

On his way to 101, Pant decided the moment was ripe to paddle Anderson over the England slips for one of the most remarkable shots likely to be played in a Test.

The fourth and final match of the series is leaning heavily India's way after they reached the close on 294-7, with a first-innings lead of 89 runs. 

Pant said of his special shot: "You have to premeditate that, but when everything is going your way you can try your luck sometimes."

Quoted in the Times of India, he said: "I get the license most of the time, but I have to assess the situation and take the game head on. I like to make the team win and if the crowd is entertained by that, I'm happy."

Pant came to the crease with India in trouble on 80-4, and they were also stumbling at 146-6, but his alliance with Washington Sundar (60 not out) turned the momentum of the game.

Anderson eventually took revenge, having Pant caught by Joe Root to end a 118-ball innings, but it was the batsman's day after he began with a cautious approach.

"If the bowlers are bowling well, respect it and take the singles, and that was on my mind," Pant said. "I like to play the situation and I just see the ball and react - that's the USP of my game.

"The team plan was to get to 206, past the England total, and then get as many runs as possible after that as a batting unit."

England captain Joe Root feels fortunate to have a "battery of fast bowlers" and says both James Anderson and Stuart Broad could play in the third Test against India.

The tourists have adopted a rotation policy in Sri Lanka and India at the start of a year in which they face such a hectic schedule.

Anderson was outstanding in England's victory in the first Test at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, but missed out as Broad came into the side for a second match at the same venue in Chennai that was comprehensively won by India.

England's leading Test wicket-taker Anderson is expected to return along with Jofra Archer for the day-night Test at Motera Stadium, which starts on Wednesday, while Broad will be hoping to retain his place.

Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are also in contention to charge in with the pink ball in Ahmedabad, where England need a win to keep alive their hopes of playing New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final.

Root refused to be drawn on the make-up of the side and did not rule out unleashing Anderson and Broad for the first time this winter, with England mulling over whether to go with an extra seamer and just one spinner.

Asked if Anderson and Broad may have played in the same team for the last time, Root said: "I think you'd be wrong to ever write off those two to do anything.

"The records they've had, the things they have produced - especially in the last couple of years - there's a reason they are up there with the top three bowlers in the world.

"They are consistently getting better the older they get, they are using their experience to their advantage all of the time and I'm sure there will be opportunities where they get to play together in the near future and much further down the line as well.

"You are talking about two of England's greatest bowlers and the records they set will be difficult for anyone to pass. I feel like there is a lot of life left in them both and you add in guys like Jofra, Woody, Woakes, all of these skilful bowlers around them, we are building a very good team, that they are very much at the front of."

Root added: "They [Anderson and Broad] have got a chance, it's a great selection headache to have all these bowlers putting in performances and giving us real variety so we feel we can pick a team that best suits the conditions and the best make-up we think is going to balance things very well."

Archer was not risked for the second Test due to a shoulder problem but Root says the paceman is fully fit and raring to go.

"He's a world-class performer, he's got all of the skills. He can bowl high pace, swing it both ways and obviously can make it talk off the seam," said the skipper.

"Along with the rest of the guys in contention, it's a very exciting place to be. To have a battery of fast bowlers to choose from is where we want to be and keep improving moving forward."

The fit-again Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow will also be hoping to get the nod.

A gripping series is perfectly poised ahead of a mouthwatering day-night Test between India and England at the spectacular Motera Stadium. 

Although the capacity will be halved due to coronavirus restrictions amid the pandemic, there will still be up to 55,000 allowed into the biggest cricket venue in the world for the third Test in Ahmedabad.  

Ravichandran Ashwin was the star of the show on his home ground in Chennai as India levelled the series at 1-1, the all-rounder taking match figures of 8-96 and scoring a sublime second-innings century on a pitch that turned sharply from day one. 

The seamers will be hoping playing under floodlights with a pink ball will give them more of a chance to make an impact when the third Test starts on Wednesday, though spin will still be expected to play a major part in proceedings. 

India paceman Ishant Sharma is poised to make his 100th appearance in the longest format, while Ashwin is closing in on 400 Test scalps. 

James Anderson and Jofra Archer are set to return to the England side, with Chris Woakes pushing for a place along with Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood - the latter two are back in the squad after being given a break following the tour of Sri Lanka. 

England all-rounder Moeen Ali will not feature after heading home and India have brought fast bowler Umesh Yadav into the squad, releasing Shardul Thakur. 

Captain Joe Root gave nothing away when asked about selection on the eve of the match. 

He said: "We are going to take our time with the limited information we have on this ground, on pink-ball cricket. We are going to make sure we give ourselves as much information as possible before we make that decision."

 

Century up for Ishant, Ashwin closing in on 400

Ishant is set to become only the 11th player for India to reach 100 Tests, having already marked this series with a milestone after taking his 300th wicket in the longest format. 

The pace bowler has taken 76 Test scalps at an average of just 19.3 since 2018 and could thrive in the conditions. 

Ashwin, the hero of the second Test, is just six wickets short of the 400 landmark - a feat only Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh have achieved for India. 

The off-spinner has taken 17 wickets in the series at 17.82 apiece with a strike rate of 40.4. Jack Leach is the second-highest wicket-taker with 12.

 

Anderson ready to shine under the lights

After playing a big hand in England's victory in the first Test in Chennai, Anderson was understandably frustrated to be omitted for the second match at the same venue.

The seamer said he understands the tourists' rotation policy in such a demanding year, though, and is raring to go with the pink ball.

England's leading Test wicket-taker has claimed 14 scalps at an average of 17.85 in three day-night Tests and should pose a massive threat to the India batsmen.

He said: "All the seam bowlers want really is a bit of carry, which we haven't really had throughout the series. We're keeping our fingers crossed there's a bit more in it for the seamers."

Key match facts

- India were bowled out for only 36 in their last day-night Test against Australia in Adelaide in December. England also endured a pink-ball nightmare when they were skittled out for just 58 by New Zealand in March 2018. 

- India have managed one win and a defeat in their two day-night Tests. England have been beaten in two of the three day-night contests they have played in the longest format.  

- This will be the third Test encounter between India and England at Motera Stadium. India have won once there, with Cheteshwar Pujara making a Test-best 206 not out in November 2012. The other meeting ended in a draw. 

- Only Niroshan Dickwella (seven in 19 games) has claimed more Test stumpings than Ben Foakes since November 2018 (five). The England wicketkeeper has only played six Tests in that time. 

- Rory Burns has been dismissed by Ashwin in three of his four innings in the series, scoring just 33 runs. 

Joe Root urged Dom Bess to find consistency after he was left out of the England squad for the second Test against India.

The tourists have opted for a new-look bowling attack in the second meeting at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, despite winning the opening match of the series by 227 runs at the same venue.

Bess drops out of the reckoning, with James Anderson and the injured Jofra Archer also missing out, paving the way for Stuart Broad to come back in and Moeen Ali to return.

Having taken five wickets in the four-match series opener and scored 59 runs with the bat, Bess was offered some words of advice by captain Root.

"It wasn't an easy decision; Dom's contributed fantastically well in these three games and has made a real impact," Root said.

"With him missing out, the message for him is to keep working at that consistency of his game, delivering that skill time and time again. We talk about building pressure over long periods of time and I think, as well as he has done, that is one area that he can improve on.

"But he is very young, very much at the start of things and this doesn't mean that he is going to be pushed back down the pecking order.

"It gives him an opportunity to step out of Test cricket, the harshest of environments, especially in these conditions against a team that plays spin so well, to take stock and work at his game.

"It gives Moeen a chance to come back into things, with all his experience. He's someone who is bowling very well in practice.

"It was a very difficult decision to make, I'm sure Bessy will be frustrated about it but that's good as well. You want that competition for places, you want guys to be playing all the time and be amongst it all

"That's certainly how he goes about his cricket. He's a wholehearted player and I expect a response from him."

Root is certainly well placed to talk about consistency, having once again underlined his brilliance last time out when he clocked up a first-innings double century in his 100th Test appearance to continue riding the wave of his fine showing against Sri Lanka.

The 30-year-old has piled on 684 runs in his previous three matches, which equates to 39 per cent of his side's total runs in Test cricket in 2021. 

Fans hoping to see the Yorkshireman showcasing his skills in the Indian Premier League will once again be disappointed this year, but Root does want to get involved in the future.

"It was a very difficult decision," he said regarding his decision not to register. 

"At some point in my career I'm desperate to try and be part of an IPL season and hopefully a few more beyond that as well.

"It's something I'd love to experience and love to be a part of, but with the amount of cricket – and Test cricket in particular – this year, I didn’t feel like it was the right time.

"I didn’t feel like I could throw all my energy into it, which I think it deserves. And I don’t think it would set English cricket up best with what's to come.

"It's a very difficult decision and hopefully next year there's an opportunity to be a part of the IPL."

The atmosphere at games is one of the IPL's most appealing qualities and the famously vociferous India fans will have a chance to make themselves heard in the second Test, with 15,000 allowed in.

Asked if he thinks it will change the dynamic of the contest, Root said: "Yes, I do. I think it will improve it massively

"I think having an atmosphere within a stadium is a massive part of international cricket.

"What makes it special, in many ways, is that interaction between the fans and the players. It makes those big moments, that noise and the build-up… it adds to it all

"Obviously, we know how passionate India is about cricket. It's a big part of life in many ways here and we're all excited about that.

"We want to be playing on the biggest stage in front of people. We're looking forward to that atmosphere and it's going to add to what has already started off as a brilliant series for us."

England will have a new-look bowling attack on duty for the second Test as they go up against an India side determined to bounce back in the series.

James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Dom Bess were all part of the XI that helped England become the first visiting nation to win a Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai since Pakistan in 1999, ending an eight-game unbeaten streak for the hosts.

However, none of the trio will be involved when the two teams face each other again at the same venue.

While Archer is ruled out with an elbow injury, Anderson has been rested and Bess left out of a 12-man squad. Stuart Broad seems certain to play, with the other seam-bowling spot between Chris Woakes and Olly Stone. Moeen Ali will be the second spinner; the all-rounder has not featured in Test cricket since August 2019.

Captain Joe Root admitted it was not an easy decision to give Anderson a break considering how well he performed in the opener, but England had to look at the bigger picture during such a busy year.

"Everyone's heart was in favour of him being available for this game but also you have to look at the bigger picture and ideally if he is available for two of the last three, that is a huge asset for us with the way he is bowling and his reputation, as well as his numbers and the way he has performed in recent games," Root told the media.

India, meanwhile, head into this match under pressure; they have only ever lost the first two games of a home Test series against England once previously, when they went on to suffer a 3-1 defeat in 1976-77.

Virat Kohli pointed to a failure by the bowling unit to keep England's scoring rate in check in the aftermath of the opening defeat, with slow-bowling duo Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem struggling to provide support for pacemen Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, as well as frontline spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Axar Patel missed that match due to a knee injury but came through a fitness test on Thursday. Kuldeep Yadav could also get an opportunity on a pitch that, according to Ajinkya Rahane, will spin from the outset.

"I am sure it will turn from day one," Rahane said on the eve of the game. "We will have to wait and see how it behaves in the first session and take it from there."

In a boost for India, there will be fans present for the second of four matches in the series. The ground is allowed to be 50 per cent full, though there will be social distancing measures in place amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


Captain Kohli in the spotlight

India have now lost four Tests in a row under Kohli, who departed the tour of Australia after his side had been shot out for 36 to lose the series opener in Adelaide. He returned home for the birth of his first child, with stand-in Rahane then leading the side to a 2-1 triumph.

Kohli made scores of 11 and 72 upon his return to the XI, but those numbers were not enough to stop him slipping to fifth in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings for batsmen.

Root keeps on digging in

Root underpinned England's triumph last time out with a double hundred in a mammoth first innings of 578, in the process continuing his stunning run of form following on from a hugely successful tour to Sri Lanka.

The right-handed batsman has managed 684 runs in his previous three matches, which equates to 39 per cent of his side's total runs in Test cricket in 2021. There have been useful contributions from his top-order colleagues so far overseas, but no other batsman has reached three figures in an innings during the calendar year.

Key match facts

- England have only managed to register one Test series win in India since their 2-1 tour win in 1984-85 - their successful tour in 2012 being the solitary triumph during that period (D1 L4).
- India still lead the head-to-head record with England in Tests played at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, winning five compared to the visitors' tally of four after the series opener (D1).
- England have managed to record six overseas Test wins in succession ahead of this match – victory in this game will equal their longest ever run in the format (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).
- Rishabh Pant has a batting strike rate of 70.6 in Test cricket, only two men (with a minimum of 600 runs scored) have higher rates for India (Virender Sehwag at 82, plus Kapil Dev at 81)
- Broad (517) is three scalps away from going into sixth place on the all-time leading Test wicket-takers list, jumping above Courtney Walsh (519); the Englishman has picked up 41 wickets at an average of 14.5 since the start of 2020.

James Anderson warned he is ready to move to another level as England build "something really special" after his latest outstanding exploits in a crushing Test victory over India.

Anderson was hailed by his captain Joe Root as "the GOAT of English cricket" - the greatest of all time - after he produced a brilliant spell before lunch to put the tourists well on their way to taking a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

England's leading Test wicket-taker claimed 3-17 and Jack Leach returned 4-76 as India were bowled out for 192, consigned to a 227-run defeat on the final day in Chennai.

Anderson bowled Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane in a magnificent over in the morning session as he took three wickets for six runs in five overs of a high-class spell.

The 38-year-old seamer revelled in his latest masterclass and a dominant win, declaring there is plenty more to come from both himself and the team.

Asked if this is a stage of his career he is enjoying more than ever, the Lancastrian said: "It really is. I think with the guys we've got it's really special, we are creating something really special led amazingly well by Joe Root, both on and off the field.

"The way he's batted the last few weeks has been incredible to watch. We feel like we're building something and whether it's the fitness side of it - we're trying to push each other and for me as I get older I feel I need to work harder at that and I need to keep up with the younger guys, which helps me.

"We are trying to develop skills to win anywhere in the world, which you need to do if you want to get to number one - which our eventual goal is.

"It's a really fun time to be around this group and we just keep challenging each other and keep the form on the field as well."

He added: "I feel like I can keep improving. My fitness and skills and the consistency is something that I'm continually trying to improve. I don't see why I can't keep getting better and that's what I strive to do.

"I think when I don't feel like I need to do that and I don't need to come to the ground and practise my skills in the net and get better, that's when maybe I need to start looking at something else to do, but right now I feel I can still get better and I'm enjoying the challenge of doing that.”

Anderson hopes to be picked for the Test at the same venue starting on Saturday but will understand if he is rested, with Stuart Broad raring to go after being left out for this statement victory in Root's 100th match in the longest format.

He said: "I guess when a batsman gets in that rhythm and form they want to keep batting. It's the same for a bowler, you want to keep that going as much as possible, but I'm very aware that we've got four Test matches in quick succession here.

"There will be probably a need to rest and rotate, it's been talked about before we even got to Sri Lanka, so I'm not presuming anything and I'll try and rest and recover from this game as best I can in the next day or two, then get back in the nets and try and put my name in the hat for Saturday. We'll see what happens."

Joe Root hailed James Anderson as the "GOAT of English cricket" who is "ageing like a fine wine" after England's leading Test wicket-taker produced another masterclass of seam bowling in an emphatic win over India.

The magnificent Anderson produced one of the great spells before lunch in Chennai on day five of the first match of the series, putting the tourists well on their way to a 227-run victory.

Anderson generated huge reverse swing, taking three wickets for six runs in five overs during the morning session, and India could not contend with his skillset as the 38-year-old finished with brilliant figures of 3-17.

Impressive spinner Jack Leach took 4-76 as India were bowled out for 192 after lunch, half-centuries from captain Virat Kohli (72) and Shubman Gill (50) proving to be in vain.

It was a dream 100th Test for Root, who made a sublime double century and was named man of the match after matching Michael Vaughan's record of 26 victories as skipper for England in the longest format.

Root paid tribute to the ageless Anderson after his final-day heroics.

The in-form batsman said: "He is the GOAT of English cricket. He finds ways of constantly challenging himself and getting better.

"At 38 to still be getting better and be as fit as ever is fantastic - he is a great role model. His skill level is as good as anyone you'll ever see."

Root added: "He just keeps getting better and better, like a fine wine. His skill levels are as high as ever and his fitness levels.

"He sets a great example for all the younger bowlers in our squad and I can see him playing on for many more years, which is very exciting."

On England's overall performance, Root said: "It's been a fantastic five days with the way we came back and executed the game plan, it was really, really pleasing and we'll enjoy this before getting ready to come back again."

The magnificent James Anderson and Jack Leach starred as England took a 1-0 Test series lead over India with an emphatic 227-run victory on the final day in Chennai.

England started day five needing another nine wickets to win a match they dominated throughout and Joe Root's side got the job done in the afternoon session at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Anderson produced a sublime spell before lunch, taking two wickets in one brilliant over, and finished with figures of 3-17, while the impressive Leach took 4-76 as India were dismissed for 192.

Half-centuries from Virat Kohli (72) and Shubman Gill (50) were in vain as India never looked like getting close to reaching their unlikely target of 420 to win or being capable of batting out for a draw.

Victory for the tourists ensured Root matched Michael Vaughan’s record tally of 26 Test wins as captain, capping a dream 100th match in the longest format for the in-form batsman, whose classy double century set up a perfect start to the four-match series.

India resumed on 39-1, needing an unlikely 401 more runs for victory, and they were two down when Leach drew an edge from Cheteshwar Pujara with a delivery that turned sharply, Ben Stokes taking a sharp catch at first slip.

Anderson then came to the fore with a magnificent over, removing Gill's off stump and repeating the trick to clean up Ajinkya Rahane for a duck three balls later.

India were in deep trouble on 110-5 when Rishabh Pant fell into the trap, taken by Root at short cover as another clever piece of bowling from the wily Anderson was rewarded again.

Leach snared Washington Sundar, superbly caught behind by Jos Buttler, to leave India staring down the barrel of defeat at 144-6 at lunch, with the classy Kohli running out of partners.

Ravichandran Ashwin was peppered by short stuff from Jofra Archer, taking a blow on the helmet and glove, as he hung around defiantly before another excellent take from Buttler gave Leach a third wicket.

Kohli look untroubled as he knuckled down, rotating the strike and putting away any loose deliveries, but Stokes came into the attack to bowl the skipper.

Shahbaz Nadeem became Leach's fourth victim and Archer had Jasprit Bumrah caught behind to seal a famous sixth consecutive away win for Root's men.

James Anderson is picking up speed after becoming "obsessed" with watching videos of American sprint legend Carl Lewis.

The veteran England bowler bagged his 30th five-wicket Test haul with figures of 6-40 in Sri Lanka's first innings of the second Test in Galle.

It saw the 38-year-old become the oldest paceman to take a five-wicket haul in a Test played in Asia.

Afterwards, Anderson revealed that he wants to run faster than he ever has before, as part of his drive to remain a vital cog in the England team.

Anderson, whose bowling exploits were followed on Saturday by a fine batting display from captain Joe Root, accepts he will no longer play in every Test.

He was left out for the first game in this two-match series but took Stuart Broad's place this week and showed he remains a formidable force.

Only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble have taken more Test wickets than Anderson, who is always looking for a way to improve.

"Through experience, the more effort you put in, the more rewards you get," he said.

"I've worked really hard on my fitness in the last 12 months. I'm working on stuff like running technique that's going to make me quicker.

"I'm obsessed with Carl Lewis at the moment and watching him run. I don't see why I can't keep improving just because I'm getting older."

Lewis, who won four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, sustained his track and field career into his thirties, but few sportsmen can match the longevity of Anderson.

"I'm thinking I'm still someone who can do a job for England," Anderson said. "I can still win games of cricket.

"When you do get told you're not playing, it is frustrating, but all that made me do was focus on the second Test.

"But the older I've got, the more I realise they're looking after us and trying to manage us.

"We're playing a lot of Test cricket in a short period of time so we're aware we're going to have to rest from time to time."

In reply to Sri Lanka's 381 all out, England reached 98-2 at the close, having been 5-2 at one stage.

Root (67 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (24no) will resume on Sunday, and Anderson said: "We know now we've got to bat big and we've got to bat for a long time to try to win this game.

"We just need a couple of guys to go big – a couple of decent hundreds, as we saw in the first Test match, really makes a big difference.

"I think it's pretty important to try to get a lead if we can, just thinking of how the pitch is going to go. You don't want to chase down too many in the fourth innings if we're going to win."

Root made a double century in that first Test, and went past Geoffrey Boycott in Saturday's innings to nudge up to sixth place on the list of England's all-time leading run-scorers.

"I'm pretty sure he's not thinking about milestones when he's out there," Anderson said. "I'm not sure he's that sort of player."

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.

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.

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 great James Anderson is taking inspiration from Tom Brady and Ryan Giggs as he targets playing top-level cricket into his forties.

Anderson, 38, reached the latest landmark of a phenomenal career this week when he took his 600th Test wicket in England's draw against Pakistan at Southampton.

No fast bowler has taken more in the longest format and Anderson, who first turned out for England in Tests 17 years ago, feels he has plenty more miles left on the clock.

Manchester United great Giggs and six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Brady are useful touchstones, especially with the 2021-22 Ashes in Australia on the horizon.

"I'm a member of the same golf club as Ryan but I've never met him, or spoken to him," Anderson told The Times. "But I've looked into it, because I just want to see whether you should be doing anything different approaching your forties, but I don't think there is. Some people are just lucky with their metabolism.

"You see Tom Brady and you wouldn't think that he's 42 to see him play. I think there is a bit of stigma around age in sport, but I don't see any reason why I can't play into my forties.

"I don't set targets but I've spoken to Joe [Root, England captain] and he's keen for me to go to Australia. I never like to look too far ahead, and we don't know when we'll be playing next, but I'll be preparing as I always do.

"I want to keep playing. If I feel like I do now, I don't see why I can't play into my forties, go to Australia and beyond.

"Everyone has got their opinions about retirement, but I feel I'm improving as a bowler and I don't feel like I'm levelling off yet. As long as I keep doing that, why would I stop?"

At the other end of the age bracket in Root's Test side, batsman Ollie Pope is facing an extended period on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

The 22-year-old dislocated his left shoulder while fielding against Pakistan at the Rose Bowl and an MRI scan confirmed he would require surgery, necessitating a four-month recovery period.

Pope will then undergo a period of rehabilitation with England and Surrey's medical teams and target a return for his country's proposed tours of Sri Lanka and India in early 2021.

James Anderson claimed Pakistan's Azhar Ali as his 600th Test wicket on Tuesday – becoming the first fast bowler in history to reach the milestone.

The latest landmark moment of a phenomenal career illuminated a rain-ruined final day, with visiting skipper Azhar edging a lifting delivery to Joe Root at slip after the first two sessions of Tuesday were lost at Southampton.

England great Anderson, playing for the 156th time in the longest format, was at his brilliant in claiming a 29th five-wicket haul in Tests as Pakistan, already 1-0 down in the series, were bowled out for 273 and forced to follow-on at the end of day three.

It meant the 38-year-old emerged with the new ball in his hand on the fourth morning, although a dropped catch behind the stumps by Jos Buttler delayed his progress - as similar errors by Rory Burns, Zak Crawley and Stuart Broad had late on Sunday.

He trapped Abid Ali lbw for number 599 and, despite the best efforts of the elements, Anderson would not be denied his moment in the final Test of the English summer.

Anderson is fourth on Test cricket's all-time list, with India leg-spinner Anil Kumble next in his sights on 619 wickets, while all-time greats Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (800) are somewhat further afield.

 

A five-for on debut against Zimbabwe in 2003 launched Anderson's red-ball international career and he went on to establish himself as the leader of the England attack under Andrew Strauss' captaincy, with the side memorably winning the 2010-11 Ashes away from home and ascending to number one in the world.

He became England's most prolific bowler in his 100th Test match against West Indies in 2015, dismissing Denesh Ramdin to reach 383 victims and overtake Ian Botham.

Anderson has since continued to go from strength to strength, usually in alliance with his long-time new ball partner Stuart Broad, who joined him in the 500 club earlier this season.

When Anderson removed India's Mohammed Shami at The Oval in 2018, he moved on to 564 wickets to usurp Glenn McGrath as the most prolific seamer ever.

Australia hero McGrath then laid down a challenge now accomplished.

"I have a lot of respect for Jimmy. He's been an incredible bowler for a long time," he told BBC Radio 5Live. "If he can raise the bar to 600 wickets, that's an incredible effort."

James Anderson was left tantalisingly on the brink of history with 599 Test wickets when bad light halted play after Pakistan frustrated England on a rain-affected fourth day of the final Test.

Anderson needed two wickets on the penultimate day to become the first fast bowler to take 600 scalps in the longest format, but could only dismiss Abid Ali for a patient 42.

Jos Buttler became the fourth player to drop a catch off Anderson's bowling in the final match of the series and Pakistan produced a strong rearguard action to close on 100-2 - trailing by 210 runs - as they battled to salvage a draw.

Stuart Broad (1-23) dismissed Shan Masood, who was given that early life by Buttler, but England could only strike twice in the 56 overs that were possible on a flat pitch at the Rose Bowl.

England will end a 10-year wait for a Test series win over Pakistan on the final day as they lead 1-0, but there are major doubts over whether there will be any play as Storm Francis is heading for Southampton.

With uncertainty over when England's next Test will be, Anderson could face a long wait for his next chance to become only the fourth player to join the 600 club.

Ollie Pope left the field early in the day and did not return after the tourists resumed at the start of their second innings with a deficit of 304.

Anderson (1-18) suffered more frustration when Buttler failed to grasp a chance offered by Masood on three and Pakistan's openers dug in with defiance before an early lunch was taken due to heavy rain at 41 without loss.

Abid and Masood (18) continued to dig in after play restarted following a lengthy spell off the field, but a stand of 49 ended when the left-hander fell lbw offering no shot to Broad.

Captain Azhar Ali, who made a magnificent unbeaten century on day three, and Abid saw out another 26 overs as England appeared to run out of ideas before Anderson moved a step closed to 600.

Abid was the man to depart, trapped in front to leave Pakistan 88-2 but Anderson was soon taken out of the attack in fading light and the players were taken off with the seamer reflecting on what might have been.

 

Frustrated Anderson within touching distance 

England's leading Test wicket-taker Anderson had the Monday blues after Buttler became the latest player to spurn a chance to help him reach the 600-mark.

Rory Burns, Zak Crawley and Broad spilled catches on day three and Anderson was left shaking his head after wicketkeeper Buttler missed a straightforward opportunity to see the back of Masood.

The four drops came in the space of 37 balls from Anderson, who will be hoping some calm after the storm gives him another chance to make history on the last day of England's final Test of the summer.

 

Resolute Pakistan show great fight

Pakistan started the penultimate day facing a real challenge to avoid a heavy defeat, but their batsmen showed impressive discipline in a match England have dominated.

Abid fell for only one in the first innings after making a half-century in the second Test, but soaked up 162 balls before he eventually fell to Anderson.

Masood and skipper Azhar, with a spring his step after a brilliant knock on Sunday, also showed commendable resilience on a day of Test cricket that will not live long in the memory but really should have done.

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