Joe Root told Sky Sports he was thrilled to lead England’s aggressive approach as he completed a 15th Test ton against Sri Lanka in Kandy.
The England captain had urged his side to be “bold” before the series started in Galle last week and typified that method on day three of the second Test with his 124 from 146 balls helping the tourists to 324-9 by stumps, a lead of 278.
Root’s century was his second in Asia, while he now holds the highest score by an England captain in Sri Lanka, topping the 109 Nasser Hussain managed in Kandy in 2001.
“[My Test hundreds] are all different but that was a thoroughly enjoyable one and quite challenging on that surface,” Root, who said he felt “a bit all over the place” early in his knock, told Ian Ward at stumps.
“The most pleasing thing for me was that having asked the guys to play in an [aggressive] manner in these conditions, you want to set the example and lead from the front. For it to come off was really pleasing.
“I felt a bit all over the place at the start, a bit hectic. I felt quite calm underneath but my legs were flapping on the outside!
“It was about trying to get the bowlers to bowl in the areas you want them to, take a few risks early and get used to the way the surface is playing.
“Once I got to about 20 and got a few boundaries away I felt I was picking length pretty well in terms of sweeping and it made things a lot easier.”
England began day three 46 runs behind Sri Lanka on 0-0 but Rory Burns (59) dominated a brisk second-wicket stand of 72 with Keaton Jennings as he scored a maiden fifty from 61 balls in his fourth innings at Test level.
Ben Foakes (51no) completed his half-century with a six shortly before bad light ended play early, while Jos Buttler scored a useful 34 as England moved into a strong position in their bid to wrap up a series win following their 211-run victory in the first Test in Galle.
“We kept the board going at a really good rate, especially in the first session, so credit to the guys for playing that way when we had a deficit,” added Root, who now has two tons in three Tests after going 15 matches without reaching three figures.
“The temptation would be to go into your shell but guys played with freedom and courage while paying respect to good balls.
Sri Lanka vs England
November 17, 2018, 4:15am
“Rory has played with real calmness and looked in control of what he is trying to do – he looks unflappable. I watch him bat and he has everything to go on and have a really strong Test career.”
Root now hopes England are a little more “patient” with the ball during Sri Lanka’s second innings.
“We have given ourselves a really good chance and if we bowl well on the surface we will be able to create at least 10 chances,” he added.
“It will be interesting to see if the rain makes the pitch spin a little bit more. It’s important we recognise what it’s going to be like and adapt quickly.
“We may have over-attacked with some of the fields in the first innings and got a bit giddy when it spun, myself included. We may have to be a bit more patient and try and hit the stumps as much as possible.”
Watch day four of the second Test between Sri Lanka and England from 4am, Saturday on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.
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