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Bairstow hits 110, England 311-7 in final test v Sri Lanka

November 23, 2018
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England's Jonny Bairstow plays a shot during the first day of the third test cricket match between Sri Lanka and England in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Jonny Bairstow marked his return to the England team with a sixth test hundred to help the tourists to 311-7 at the end of the first day of the third and final test against Sri Lanka on Friday.

Bairstow scored 110 off 186 balls, with nine fours and a six, in his first game since twisting his ankle while playing football almost a month ago during the ODI series against the Sri Lankans.

The injury created an opportunity for Ben Foakes to earn selection as wicketkeeper in the first test, and his century on debut meant he was retained for the second test at Bairstow’s expense.

Bairstow made his return as a specialist batsman after allrounder Sam Curran was ruled out of the third test because of a side strain.

England had experimented unsuccessfully using Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes at No. 3 in the previous two tests and Bairstow was promoted to that position in Colombo.

He made the most of the opportunity by hitting his third test hundred against Sri Lanka, adding 100 runs for the third wicket with captain Joe Root (46) and 99 for the fourth wicket with Stokes (57) after England won the toss.

“The emotion and hard work that has gone into getting back out on the field is massive,” Bairstow said.

“I was given an opportunity to bat at No. 3 today. Long term, who knows what’s going to happen? In the last year I think I’ve batted at No. 7, 6, 5, 4 and 3.”

England is bidding to clinch a 3-0 win in the series. Only Australia (2004) and India (2017) have whitewashed Sri Lanka away.

Bairstow was dismissed after tea when Lakshan Sandakan bowled him. Playing his first game in the series, the spinner was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka with figures of 4-91.

Left-arm orthodox spinner Malinda Pushpakumara had 2-64 and offspinner Dilruwan Perera claimed the other wicket.

Sri Lanka exhausted their reviews in the morning session and the hosts were left to rue that as they weren’t able to look again at a few close calls. They weren’t too sharp on the field, either, as Ali was dropped twice — on 2 and 17 — by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella then Dimuth Karunaratne at first slip.

Moeen was given out lbw twice when, on 17 and 23, both off Perera but successfully reviewed both calls.

Play was stopped with 11 balls remaining due to bad light.

England won the first test at Galle by 211 runs and the second test by 57 runs.

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