Leeds Test: Hales, Bairstow keep SL at bay

Alex Hales and Jonathan Bairstow frustrated Sri Lanka after debutant allrounder Dasun Shanaka sparked a top-order collapse on the first day of the first Test against England at Headingley on Thursday.

Dasun Shanaka struck on his seventh ball in international cricket. He ended up taking three top-order wickets in the day.   -  Getty Images

Alex Hales and Jonathan Bairstow frustrated Sri Lanka after debutant allrounder Dasun Shanaka sparked a top-order collapse on the first day of the first Test against England at Headingley on Thursday.

>Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

England, which was 70 for four soon after lunch, had moved on to 171 for five when rain prevented any play after Tea and forced an early close to an intriguing opening day in the 75th Test staged at Headingley. Opening batsman Hales, under pressure for his place after a modest return in England’s series win in South Africa, was a Test-best 71 not out with Bairstow, on his Yorkshire home ground, unbeaten on 54.

>Read: Hales believes he is a 'work in progress'

The pair’s so far unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 88 helped England recover after Shanaka’s treble strike helped justify Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews’s decision to field first.

Mathews won the toss in overcast conditions reminiscent of those at Headingley two years ago when his side triumphed in the second Test to seal their first series win in England. England captain Alastair Cook, who started his innings needing just 36 more runs to become the first Englishman to score 10,000 in Tests, got off the mark with a trademark clip off his legs for four.

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But the left-handed opener was caught behind for 16 going for a cover drive off a wide but full delivery from Shanaka. Three deliveries later and still in the 21st over, Shanaka had the under-fire Nick Compton out for nought with first slip Lahiru Thirimanne holding a low catch.

Joe Root, England’s recently crowned player of the year in all formats, also fell for a duck to Shanaka as he edged to gully. Shanaka, who scored a hundred in Sri Lanka’s final warm-up match without hinting at his worth as a bowler, had taken three wickets for one run in eight balls.

READ: >Mahela Jayawardene's column

The 24-year-old’s return again proved the value of accurate medium pace in conditions offering some assistance, if not extravagant movement, for swing and seam bowling.

England was 57 for three at lunch. Hales was then 38 not out, with debutant James Vince unbeaten on nought. After getting off the mark Vince, 25, whose elegant style has been compared to that of Michael Vaughan, struck two fours — a cover-drive and straight drive — worthy of the former England skipper.

But Vince, who recently scored a hundred at Headingley for Hampshire against county champion Yorkshire, exited for nine when he nicked Shaminda Eranga, to gully.

Allrounder Ben Stokes struck three fours but holed out tamely to mid-on off Nuwan Pradeep.

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