Virtual Test: Ollie Pope hundred rescues England on day three against Sri Lanka
Last Updated: 29/03/20 1:57pm
Ollie Pope was the hero for England on day three of the second Virtual Test in Colombo as he struck his second Test century to bring England close to parity with Sri Lanka after their first innings.
Pope's second Test century was a masterpiece of how to play the turning ball, though credit should also go to England's tail, as the seventh wicket fell with Pope on just 46 and England's total 259 - still some 125 runs shy of Sri Lanka's score.
Benedict's Virtual Simulation
Sky Sports statistician Benedict Bermange is using a cricket simulation that takes into account batting averages, strike-rates, bowling averages and bowling speeds and plays out a five-day Test match based on those figures.
Dimuth Karunaratne's decision to take the new ball backfired as Dom Bess found pace on the ball more to his liking as he made a composed 22 before edging a perfectly-flighted leg-break from Wanindu Hasaranga to Niroshan Dickwella.
Hasaranga - on debut - was the best of the Sri Lankan bowlers, finishing with 6-94 from 43.1 overs. His selection has so far proved to be a masterstroke by virtual 'chairman of selectors' Kumar Sangakkara, who was clearly impressed by what he has seen at domestic level.
Hasaranga's figures are the best by a Sri Lankan debutant, surpassing Upul Chandana's 6-179 against Pakistan at Dhaka in March 1999.
England had started the day brightly, with Joe Root taking two boundaries from the opening over from Angelo Mathews, but just three overs later Joe Denly (49) fell just one run short of a half-century when he was trapped lbw by the impressive Vishwa Fernando (2-89).
Ben Stokes (2) was bowled, missing a forward lunge to Hasaranga, and then Root fell for 64, lbw to Dilruwan Perera. When Jos Buttler (5) clipped Hasaranga to Karunaratne at midwicket, England had lost four wickets in the opening session for the addition of just 49 runs.
As he has done so often in his short international career so far, Curran stopped the rot and had progressed serenely to 32 before he tried to clear Kusal Perera at mid-on off the bowling of Lasith Embuldeniya.
After Bess helped add 47 for the eighth wicket, Jack Leach took over and conjured the spirit of Headingley with an obdurate, 82-minute innings of 19, which successfully helped shepherd Pope to a century.
Stuart Broad (6) didn't hang around for long, which left Sri Lanka an awkward 13-over spell at the end of the day, in which Curran (1-25) struck an early blow.
Curran nipped out Karunaratne for 11 to leave the hosts 44-1 at the close, leading by 51 runs as they look to win the Test and level the series.