England captain Joe Root anchored his side’s first innings in Sri Lanka, making 78 on day one of their opening warm-up against the SLC President’s XI in Katunayake.
At tea the tourists were 213 for six, Zak Crawley’s fluent 43 at the top of the order the next best effort after Root.
If England were expecting to be bombarded by spin, as is highly likely come the first Test in Galle on March 19, they were in for a surprise, with the home side favouring pace on a green-tinged surface.
50 up for Joe Root, anchoring the first innings of the tour. pic.twitter.com/oWTIl2lGVE— Rory Dollard (@thervd) March 7, 2020
All six wickets came from seamers and the morning session contained just two overs from former Test spinner Malinda Pushpakumara – a rare sight in this part of the world.
As a non first-class fixture there was no need for a coin toss, with England batting first by agreement as Crawley and Dom Sibley put on 52 for the first wicket.
Sibley, fresh from scoring back-to-back hundreds on the England Lions tour in Australia, was the junior partner throughout and became the first victim of the trip when he was trapped lbw by Kavishka Anjula for 14.
Crawley put together a more fluent knock of 43 in just 45 balls, striking his first boundary from the fourth delivery of the day and driving crisply as he collected eight more before being bowled by a Lahiru Samarakoon cutter.
Root and Joe Denly shared a stand of 55 either side of lunch before a middle-order wobble saw the home side pick up three for 18. Denly (32) and Ollie Pope (eight) were both caught behind after lazy wafts away from their body and Ben Stokes was caught and bowled for just three after top-edging Nisala Tharaka.
Root eased to 50 in just 60 balls, working the ball around with care, but was given lbw to Anjula shortly before the break.
With the match not limited to 11-a-side England sent in opener Keaton Jennings at number eight, and he kept Jos Buttler (26no) company until tea.