Root and Prior inspire fightback

 
Frank Dalleres
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ENGLAND’S Joe Root toasted another vintage batting performance at Lord’s after his unbeaten century helped to steer the hosts out of choppy waters on day one of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

Root’s 102 not out, allied to Matt Prior’s unbeaten 76, left England in an assured position on 344-5, having suffered early wobbles when on 22-2 and then 120-4. It was a morale-boosting display for both men, who were dropped during the Ashes whitewash in Australia during the winter, at the ground where Root hit a Test-best 180 on his last visit.

“I enjoy playing here. You can’t beat the first Test of the summer at Lord’s and the atmosphere was fantastic,” he said. “Nothing beats Test cricket in my eyes and the challenge of trying to score runs in the first Test of the summer after the winter we had was one I relished.”

It was also vindication for wicketkeeper Prior, whose place has come under threat due to his own injury and the limited-overs form of Jos Buttler.

“I love batting with Matt,” Root added. “To play how he has is testament to his character and his quality as a player.”

All-rounder Moeen Ali, one of three debutants, and England’s recently crowned player of the year Ian Bell also played key roles in the fightback, though the former fell two runs short of matching the latter’s half-century.

Having been put into bat, opener Sam Robson could manage just one run on his Test debut before nudging at Nuwan Pradeep, who claimed Gary Ballance (23) in similar fashion. Captain Alastair Cook made just 17, extending his run without a Test ton to 21 innings.