GALLE, Sri Lanka (AP) — Injury-hit Sri Lanka slipped to 65-3 against England in its first home test since the COVID-19 pandemic forced sports into a temporary lockdown 10 months ago.
Veteran paceman Stuart Broad claimed two wickets in an over and offspinner Dom Bess grabbed a wicket off his second delivery in Asia after Sri Lanka's stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and elected to bat.
Sri Lanka had a setback when its regular captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, was ruled out with a fractured thumb which might rule out him for the entire two-test series.
England missed an opportunity to remove Chandimal just before lunch, with Dan Lawrence dropping a chance in the covers off a hard drive from Sri Lankan skipper.
Chandimal was unbeaten on 22 at the lunch interval and Angelo Mathews was not out on 17. The wicket at the picturesque Galle International Stadium has already started showing signs of spin for both Bess and Jack Leach.
Lahiru Thirimanne (4), replacing Karunaratne as an opener, was outsmarted by some intelligent field placing by England captain Joe Root.
Broad, bowling around the wicket, had the left-hander Thirimanne caught at leg slip in his fourth over. One ball later, Kusal Mendis fell for his fourth successive score of zero in test matches as he got a faint edge off Broad’s brilliant leg-cutter.
Kusal Perera (20) could have been dismissed on 9 but a fielding lapse by Jack Leach meant he couldn't reach the lefthander’s top edged pull shot.
Bess, introduced into the attack in the 11th over by Root, was immediately rewarded when Perera went for an ambitious reverse sweep and gloved a simple catch to Root at first slip.
Sri Lanka packed its playing XI with three spinners -- Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera and Lasith Embuldeniya -- with Asitha Fernando as the sole specialist fast bowler.
England gave a test cap to Essex’s 23-year-old batsman Lawrence. The visitors opted to rest James Anderson and picked Sam Curran and Mark Wood to partner Broad upfront with the new ball.
England players wore black armbands in memory of former England test cricketers -- John Edrich, Robin Jackman and Dom Smith -- who passed away recently.