Lahiru Thirimanne completed his second Test hundred. (Photo: AFP/LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI)

GALLE, Sri Lanka - AFP
Cricket: Thirimanne century leads Sri Lanka fightback in first England Test

Opener Lahiru Thirimanne completed a battling century on Sunday (Jan 17) as Sri Lanka clawed their way back against England on the fourth day of the first Test in Galle.

Thirimanne, 31, scored 111, the second hundred of his Test career and his first in seven years, as the hosts continued to defy England who made 421 in their first innings on the back of a fine double century by skipper Joe Root.

At lunch, Sri Lanka had reached 242 for four, with Angelo Mathews on 30 and Dinesh Chandimal on 20, and needed 44 more runs to make England bat again after being shot out for 135 in the first innings.

Resuming at 158-2 on Sunday, Sri Lanka lost nightwatchman Lasith Embuldeniya for nought in the first over from off-spinner Dom Bess but Thirimanne and Matthews kept up the hosts' stubborn resistance.

Thirimanne survived some close calls before reaching his hundred with a trademark square cut to the boundary off Bess.

On 83, he drove Bess just out of reach of a diving Dom Sibley at short extra-cover.

And on 91 he top-edged a sweep off Bess that fortunately dropped into no-man's land and then saw an inside edge off Jack Leach just clear the short-leg fielder.

The empty COVID-19-stricken stadium meant that only his teammates in the pavilion were there to applaud his knock as he passed the hundred-mark.

The left-hander was dismissed half an hour before lunch, nicking to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler off left-arm seamer Sam Curran for 111.

Thirimanne struck 12 boundaries in his 251-ball innings and shared a 52-run stand with Mathews for the fourth wicket.

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