LIVE SCORECARD: Keaton Jennings two runs short of century at tea as England build a massive 351-run lead against Sri Lanka
- England have extended their lead over Sri Lanka to 351 runs at tea in Galle
- Keaton Jennings is just two runs shy of his second Test century, stuck on 98
- Ben Stokes was the only casualty of the afternoon session, going for 62
Keaton Jennings moved England towards a position of total superiority in the first Test while also potentially saving his own England career with a display of supreme concentration and solidity here in Galle today.
At tea Jennings is just two runs short of a second Test century after England had gone a long way towards grinding Sri Lanka into the ground at their own fortress by moving to 212 for four, a massive 351 ahead with the ball now turning sharply. And the highest successful run chase to win a Test here is just 95.
That should be plenty enough already to give England their first ever victory at this special ground at some point over the next two days unless the rain that still seems to be forecast every day here ever arrives.
This is a triumph for Jennings, who was lucky to hold on to his place for this tour after going 18 Test innings without a 50 since he arrived at the highest level in some style with a century on debut then a 50 in his second Test against India.
Keaton Jennings marks his half-century in Galle and is just two runs shy of a century in Galle
Ben Stokes was also among the runs in the afternoon session, as he hit a solid 62
Jennings cuts away a shot on the third morning of the first Test at the Galle Stadium
Rory Burns was run out for 23 by Dimuth Karunaratne as the opener fell cheaply once again
Jennings is only really here because Alastair Cook retired from international cricket at the end of last summer and England did not want to replace two openers at the same time with Rory Burns making his debut here.
How Jennings has made the most of his reprieve, hitting 46 in the first innings and now standing tall against a plethora of Sri Lankan spin as England found a much more productive tempo than in their initially reckless first innings.
The South African-born Jennings almost never uses his feet against slow bowling but sweeps and reverse sweeps to good effect and now kept the scoreboard ticking over after England had lost three wickets in the first session.
And he was joined by Ben Stokes in a stand of 107 for the fourth wicket that surely ended any remote hopes Sri Lanka had of getting back into the Test.
Stokes played himself in before moving through the gears and hitting three sixes to reach 62 in his best innings since his career was interrupted by his appearance in court last summer and he looked set to go on to three figures.
Dilruwan Perera celebrates after Rory Burns is run out at the Galle International Stadium
Perera (left) celebrates with his team-mates after taking the wicket of Moeen Ali
Joe Root was dismissed for just three after being caught behind by Niroshan Dickwella
But Stokes received a ripper of a delivery from Dilruwan Perera who pitched a ball outside the left-hander’s leg stump and saw it hit off. Perhaps Stokes could have tried to kick the ball away but this was top quality bowling.
Jos Buttler joined Jennings and now England will try to bat for at least the final session of the third day and into Friday before letting their three spinners loose on a surface that should really assist them tomorrow.
That means it will take something akin to a Sri Lankan miracle now to stop England making history here and heading to Kandy for next week’s second Test one up with two to play.
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