Twitter Reactions: Lasith Embuldeniya thwarts England's chase after Leach's fifer denies Sri Lanka any substantial lead

Placed 38 for 3, with 36 to win, a couple of early wickets on the fifth day’s morning, and the game might be on.

Jack Leach
Jack Leach of England. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)
Pratyay Tiwari


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The upcoming night for Sri Lanka will be a tough one. They will have plenty of realizations in hindsight, a lot of “if only” and “what ifs” in the camp, as they would come out to face the inevitable tomorrow. Despite Lasith Embuldeniya making early inroads and making the 73-run target for England look a task much tougher than it sounds, a loss is but inevitable for Sri Lanka.

That said, the fourth day of the Test turned out to be the best of all for the home side, who not only showed immense discipline and resolve but also ensured that England needs to bat again – something which seemed a remote possibility after the visitors managed a significant 286-run lead. The day for Sri Lanka started with a patient and calm Lahiru Thirimanne battling out for his team continuing from where left.

Thirimanne’s ton keeps visitors at bay

Though Sri Lanka lost night-watchman Lasith Embuldeniya as Dom Bess dismissed him for a duck, Angelo Mathews showed incredible grit and patience during his 52-run partnership with Thirimanne, who reached the first century in 54 Test innings. While the latter looked slightly comfortable, middling the ball with confidence and rebuking the erroneous lengths of the English spinners, Mathews seemed content blocking and waiting for the scoring opportunities to arrive.

There was hardly a thing that went England’s way until they opted for the new ball, as that was when Sam Curran brought down curtains on a solid 111 of Thirimanne, who faintly nicked the all-rounder to Buttler behind. At 6, Dinesh Chandimal did not look at much ease, however, with luck favoring him, a couple of his edges flew to the boundary before Sri Lanka finished 242 for 4 at Lunch.

Leach rescues England after Sri Lanka’s somnolent blockathon 

Starting the proceedings for England in the next session, Dom Bess infused some hope as he persuaded Chandimal to draw himself forward, only to edge a low catch for Root in the slips. Though Leach and Bess erred in their lengths for the majority of the first session, they were vigilant to not repeat the same and the results followed for Leach in particular, who recorded 5 for 122. Though, that did not mean that the home team gave anything to him easily.

After Chandimal’s departure, Niroshan Dickwella and Mathews looked content in indulging in a blockathon as they scored at a snail’s pace: adding a sleep-inducing 48 from 142 deliveries. In the process, they negotiated a disciplined spell from the English seamers, to who the scorecard shows little credit. Having thoroughly frustrated the opponents, the moment of parting for Dickwella came when he was caught in two minds, stuck between which, he ended up top-edging Bess to Buttler behind the wicket to end his 74-ball 29.

The next breakthrough did not take long Dasun Shanaka was undone by a magnificent flighted delivery by Leach, which ended up rattling his stumps. Wanindu Hasaranga then edged a drive off Leach to Root in slips before Buttler stumped Dilruwan Perera at 24, to reduce Sri Lanka to 352 for 9. 7 runs later, Mathews’ age-long defense – he played 219 balls for his 71 – was concluded by Leach, who induced an outside edge that was completed by Root in the slips.

Embuldeniya rocks in a happening brief passage of play

When Sri Lanka managed only 73 runs above England’s lead, the result seemed a foregone conclusion. Save only that it was not courtesy of Lasith Embuldeniya, who rattled the England order to reduce them to 14 for 3 in hardly any time. He knocked over Dom Sibley as early as the first over of England’s second innings, whereas Zak Crawley edged him soon to Mendis in the gully after scoring 8.

Disaster deepened for England when Joe Root collided with the bowler to be run out for just 1. Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence saw off an incredibly testing phase of 10 overs, ensuring that England was not dented any further. Placed 38 for 3, with 36 to win, a couple of early wickets on the fifth day’s morning, and the game might be on. Who knows!

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