COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Jonny Bairstow returned from injury and posted an unbeaten half-century to guide England to 197 for three at tea on the opening day of the third test against Sri Lanka.
Bairstow's 81 came off 133 deliveries and contained eight boundaries and a six. He had played little cricket since hurting his ankle while playing soccer during the limited-overs section of the tour.
The injury created an opportunity for Ben Foakes to earn selection as wicketkeeper in the first test and his century on debut meant he was retained for the second test at Bairstow's expense.
Bairstow made his return as a specialist batsman after allrounder Sam Curran was ruled out of the third test because of a side strain.
England had experimented unsuccessfully using Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes at No. 3 in the previous two tests and Bairstow was promoted to that position in Colombo, making the most of the opportunity with a chanceless knock.
Bairstow combined with skipper Joe Root (46) in a 100-run partnership and continued in an unbeaten 61-run stand for the fourth wicket with Ben Stokes (38 not out).
Lakshan Sandakan took the only wicket in the middle session when Root mistimed a slog sweep and was caught by Danushka Gunathilaka at short mid-wicket.
The Sri Lankans, who claimed the wickets of openers Rory Burns (14) and Keaton Jennings (13) in the morning session, were unlucky not to dismiss Stokes before he had got off the mark as umpire Chris Gaffaney turned down an appeal for lbw off Dilruwan Perera's bowling. Sri Lanka had exhausted all its reviews and couldn't refer the decision to the TV umpire.
England headed into the third test with an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series after winning the first test at Galle by 211 runs and the second test 57 runs.
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