Kandy - England's top batsmen were toppled by Sri Lanka's
spinners after their new number three Ben Stokes and skipper Joe Root fell
cheaply on day one of the second Test on Wednesday.
The tourists lost regular wickets after electing to bat
first and were 212 for seven at tea in Kandy. Sam Curran, on 12, and Adil
Rashid, on 29, were batting at the break.
Jos Buttler stood out with his gritty 63 after the spinners,
led by Malinda Pushpakumara, ran through the English top and middle order.
Dilruwan Perera grabbed two wickets while fellow spinner
Akila Dananjaya and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal claimed one each.
Pushpakumara took the three key wickets of Root, for 14,
Buttler and Moeen Ali, for 10, with his left-arm orthodox spin to put England
on the back foot on a turning pitch.
The left-right batting pair of Curran and Rashid put
together an unbeaten 41-run stand for the eighth wicket after the hosts had
slipped to 171-7.
Stokes, who batted at number five in his team's opening win
last week, had been sent up the order following Moeen's twin failures at number
three in Galle.
Off-spinner Perera successfully reviewed an lbw decision
against Stokes after the on-field umpire had turned down an appeal. He was out
Lakmal, who is leading the side in place of injured Dinesh
Chandimal, had Keaton Jennings caught behind for one in the fifth over.
Root, who scored 35 and three in the first Test, was bowled
by Pushpakumara in the 18th over for 14 and Rory Burns (43) soon followed as
England slumped to 89 for 4 before lunch.
Buttler then counter-attacked, hitting five boundaries with
a mixture of sweeps and reverse sweeps as he built crucial partnerships
including a 45-run stand with Moeen.
He was finally undone while attempting one reverse sweep too
many, as he was caught at backward point and walked back to the pavilion to a