Joe Root passes Geoff Boycott as fluent batting form sets England agenda



Captain leads from front once more to lay platform in England’s first innings

Joe Root notched up another notable milestone during his agenda-setting 67 not out on the second day in Galle, as he overtook the Test runs tally of Geoffrey Boycott, his fellow Yorkshireman and England’s former world-record holder, to lay the platform for his side’s first innings.

Root, who is playing his 99th Test, passed 8000 Test runs while making 228 in last week’s first Test against Sri Lanka, and had taken that tally to 8119 by the close on Saturday, as he repaired England’s innings in a third-wicket partnership of 93 with Jonny Bairstow (24), following the early loss of both openers, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley.

And the manner in which Root took command of the situation for England confirmed what an exceptional vein of form he is in, as he lifted his tally for the winter to 296 runs in only his third innings, with four tough Tests against India still to come next month.

“I feel like he’s a real calming influence on the team,” James Anderson, his England team-mate, said at the close. “Both around the dressing room as captain, and out in the middle.

“To have someone like him in the team who’s obviously in good form at the moment is great. And with the bat, hopefully the guys will follow his example tomorrow and stick with him and try and build some big partnerships.”

For the third innings in a row, Root arrived with his side in some strife after the single-figure dismissals of Sibley and Crawley. In the first Test, he had appeared at 17 for 2 and 12 for 2 respectively, and today that scoreline was a sickly 5 for 2, as the left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya tightened his grip on the pair, dismissing each of them for the third time in a row.

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