GALLE, Sri Lanka: England captain Joe Root was on the brink of his 18th test century as the tourists reached 206 for three at lunch on day two of the opening match against Sri Lanka in Galle on Friday.
Following a rain-hit first session, Root will resume on 99 having put on an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand of 75 in just 18.4 overs with debutant Dan Lawrence, who has impressed with his array of attacking strokes to reach 40 not out.
England have a lead of 71 runs after they skittled brittle Sri Lanka for 135 on the opening day.
It is already a commanding position on a wicket taking plenty of turn and showing signs of deterioration that will make batting increasingly difficult.
After the first 70 minutes of the day were lost to rain, the tourists resumed on their overnight 127 for two but lost Jonny Bairstow before he could add to his score of 47.
He prodded forward to a delivery from left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya (3-80) and was caught at slip by Kusal Mendis.
That ended a stand of 114 for the third wicket but any hopes from the home side that it would precipitate a collapse were quickly ended by Root and Lawrence.
Root is set to complete his third century against Sri Lanka. He has only scored more against India, having reached the milestone on four occasions.
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