England's Bairstow, Lawrence seal seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka
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Galle (Sri Lanka) (AFP) –
England won the first Test against Sri Lanka by seven wickets on Monday with Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence negotiating a "tricky" finish to guide their team to safety.
After losing three quick wickets before the overnight close, Bairstow and Lawrence steadied the innings and scored the required 36 runs in less than 10 overs on the final day.
"It was tricky," admitted Bairstow, who hit the last runs with a four in the empty stadium in Galle, with just a lone England fan watching from a fort overlooking the ground.
The pitch gave Sri Lanka's spinners hopes of claiming more wickets but Bairstow (35) and Lawrence (21) took England to 76-3 after resuming at 38-3.
Sri Lanka called a review on one Dilruwan Perera ball to Lawrence, who missed his reverse sweep. But the TV replay found the faintest edge before it hit his pads.
Sri Lanka collapsed to 135 in the first innings but after England made 421 with a Joe Root double century, the home side hit back with a determined 359 in their second innings before having England in trouble at 14-3 at one stage late Sunday.
Bairstow, playing in his first Test since 2019, said that the win was an "important" boost as England prepare for four tough Tests in India next month.
"You need 36 runs, it doesn't matter how you get there. If you are not pro-active then there is going to be a good ball come your way. We had to make sure we were pressing them in the field and running hard," he said.
The second and final Test begins on Friday in Galle.
© 2021 AFP