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Jos Buttler leads the way for England in Pallekele

Buttler’s counter-attack propelled England towards a good first-innings total.

Jos Buttler hit a counter-attacking half-century as England’s rejigged batting line-up scrapped its way to 212 for seven on the first afternoon of the second Test against Sri Lanka.

After choosing to bat first on a Pallekele pitch offering appreciable turn, the tourists failed to muster a single fifty stand in two sessions as Sri Lanka made regular inroads.

Things were looking bleak at 89 for four but Buttler turned in an imaginative 63 in 67 balls from his new home at number five, quickly deciding to focus on an almost exclusive diet of orthodox and reverse sweeps.

Ben Stokes’ promotion to number three was less of an immediate success, the all-rounder lbw defending Dilruwan Perera on the back foot for 19 having already survived a similar appeal on a tight DRS verdict.

Rory Burns had earlier impressed at opener, compiling a measured 43 before falling to a sharply spinning delivery from Akila Dananjaya that bit and took the outside edge.

Not all of his colleagues were as blameless. Keaton Jennings was first to fall with a familiar nick outside off stump, Joe Root late and loose on a Malinda Pushpakumara delivery that squirmed through the gate and Moeen Ali tamely lbw.

Most baffling was England’s Galle hero Ben Foakes, who declined to challenge the umpire’s verdict that he had been caught slip despite replays suggesting he made no contact with the ball.

Sam Curran had a big life on one when Niroshan Dickwella badly botched a stumping but he and Adil Rashid (29no) went on to add 41 before tea.

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