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Root & Prior lead England recovery

Joe Root

London: Joe Root hit an unbeaten 102 and Moeen Ali impressed on his debut as England recovered from the loss of three early wickets to reach 344 for five on the Day I of the first Test against Sri Lanka, at Lord’s, on Thursday.

Root, 23, yet to nail down any one position in the batting line-up in his fledgling international career and dropped for the final Ashes Test in Australia at the start of the year, compiled his third Test century from 190 balls and struck eight fours. He was given strong support by the recalled Matt Prior who was unbeaten on 76 at the close of play as the hosts dominated the final two sessions.

England, fielding a new-look team after being humiliated 5-0 in Australia, lost three wickets in the morning session as Nuwan Kulasekara and Nuwan Pradeep made a bright start after Sri Lanka elected to bowl.

Ian Bell (56) was out early in the afternoon session, soon after bringing up his 40th half-century in his 99th Test, to leave the home side on 120 for four before Root and Moeen rallied by sharing an 89-run stand.

Moeen hardly showed nerves despite making a slightly streaky start while Root became the fifth youngest England batsman to pass 1,000 Test runs. The pair batted for most of the middle session but after tea, Moeen slashed at a ball from Rangana Herath only to be taken by Mahela Jayawardene at first slip, falling just two short of a well-compiled 50.

Prior, back in the team after injury and loss of form, was almost trapped leg before second ball when hit on the back leg by Herath before a review went in his favour.

After that early scare, the wicketkeeper-batsman offered good support to Root as the Sri Lanka attack looked tired and the pitch began to ease up. Root and Prior scrambled plenty of quick singles and took advantage of any loose balls to put on an unbeaten 135 for the sixth wicket.