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Root ends wait for Test ton

By Matt Somerford

Joe Root hit his first Test century in almost a year to turn the tide England's way on the opening day of their Investec series against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

Root had not reached three figures since his career-best 180 against Australia at this same ground last summer, but made it back-to-back Lord's Test tons to lead an England comeback after they were sent in.

Together with Matt Prior, who like the Yorkshireman had been left out of the final Ashes Test of the winter, they stole the day away from Sri Lanka in an unbroken 135-run stand.

It meant England reached the close at 334 for five after Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews' decision to give his bowlers first use on a green-tinged wicket, but under bright blue skies.

Joe Root celebrates scoring his third Test century to give England control of the first Investec Test against Sri Lanka

Mathews' call was initially rewarded as England slipped to 120 for four shortly after lunch.

But Root was at the heart of a spirited home revival thereafter as he first combined in an 89-run stand with Moeen Ali - one of three England debutants - before he fell two runs short of a half-century.

Prior then survived the tightest of lbw reviews from his second ball and made the most of the reprieve to help England surge into the ascendancy.

Root was far from fluent for a large part of his five-hour innings, but he got his timing right in the end as he reached his third Test century in the penultimate over of the day.

Prior grew in confidence as his innings went on and had powered his way to 76 by the close after profiting on a tiring Sri Lankan attack late.

The tourists had begun well as they removed openers Sam Robson and Alastair Cook inside the opening half hour, when the ball nibbled about.

Robson managed just one on his debut after playing at a Nuwan Pradeep delivery he might have left before Cook inside-edged Nuwan Kulasekara onto his stumps.

Pradeep struck again before lunch when Gary Ballance offered a healthy edge for a wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene to pouch diving to his right.

Moeen Ali fell just short of a debut half-century, but his stand of 89 with Root helped revive England after a sticky start

Ian Bell had been untroubled in reaching a typically elegant 56, but was on his way soon after lunch when Sri Lanka correctly reviewed a Shaminda Eranga delivery that seamed down the slope and into his front pad.

Moeen steadied matters in a valuable partnership with Root before he swiped viciously at Rangana Herath only to squirt a catch to Mahela Jayawardene at slip.

Prior then survived his close call, before a partnership with Root that was highlighted by the intensity of their running between the wickets.

With more warm conditions due tomorrow, and the pitch already showing signs of flattening out as Prior and Root pressed on this afternoon, England will be hoping to build a sizeable first-innings total to set the match up.

Match Scorecard Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening Session

Highlights from a thrilling evening session where Joe Root reached three figures before the close

6.34pm - STUMPS! Eng 344/5; Root 102 Prior 76 - After being sent in and cast into some early trouble Root's century has made sure it was definitely England's day by the close. With Prior he has added 135 for the sixth wicket and there could be more to come tomorrow.

6.26pm - CENTURY! Root (183b 8x4 0x6) - It's back-to-back Lord's centuries for Root. An on-drive off Herath earns him the three runs he needs and the crowd responds with chants of 'Roooooot'. The Yorkshireman is delighted, celebrating with an tennis-serve-style fist pump and then a hug from Prior.

6.21pm - Root goes to 96 with a straight drive for four off Nuwan Kulasekara. He's one shot away.

6.20pm - There are 10 minutes left in the day's play - is that enough time for Root to reach his century? He needs eight more runs.

6.04pm - Some worrying news for Sri Lanka with Pradeep off the field for some physio. Shaminda Eranga takes over duties with the new ball after a couple of stretches at the end of his run.

6.01pm - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP! - Root turns away Pradeep for a single to move into the 90s and also bring up the century stand with Prior. It has come from 143 balls and included 11 boundaries.

5.58pm - FIFTY! Prior (81b 5x4 0x6) - Prior is back in the team and he has a fifty. He brings it up with a typically powerful shot through the off side off Nuwan Pradeep for four. Prior has made the most of his chance after narrowly escaping that reviewed lbw from his second ball.

5.51pm - The new ball is available to Sri Lanka. Root is on 85 after a lovely on-drive in the previous over off Mathews. Prior is three away from a half-century. Both men were, of course, dropped for the final Test of the Ashes in the winter.

5.36pm - Prior is forced into a full-length dive to make his ground after pushing for a second run. He'll need to take his whites to the drycleaners tonight, or at last someone at the ECB will have to. He continues to press on with Root without much alarm. England are 282 for five.

5.16pm - Root gets on the back foot and thumps Eranga to the cover rope. That was well timed! Next ball he carves away to the point rope and that's the 50-run partnership with Prior. It's time for a drink.

5.08pm - Root turns the ball away neatly towards the square-leg rope and some good running by Prior ensures they squeeze a third run. The sun remains out here at Lord's and, with 21 overs still due to be bowled today, these two can start to edge England ahead in this match.

4.58pm - Root has not found the middle of his bat too many times - especially when driving on the off side - and he is still struggling a bit in this evening session. He has had to grit his teeth and bat to a plan that has included turning the strike over and running hard. It may not have been pretty so far, but it has been important for England.

4.42pm - Prior is looking to attack the spinner now. He lifted Herath to the long-on rope the over before last before a powerful drive through the off side brings another boundary to get him into double figures.

4.30pm - Is it Prior's day? He calls Root through for a quick single to Herath at mid-on. Prior makes his ground and Herath, hardly known for his fielding prowess, hit the stumps and the ball goes for two overthrows.

4.26pm - REVIEW! - Matt Prior survives the closest of reviews before he has scored. He was hit on the back thigh pressing forward at Herath. The right-hander could only be saved by the ball hitting him outside the line and the DRS says 'Umpire's Call' on that front. It was very tight though.

4.21pm - WICKET! Moeen c Mahela Jayawardene b Herath 48; Eng 209/5 - Moeen misses out on a debut fifty. He aims a big drive at Herath - perhaps thinking about that milestone - and gets a edge that squirts into the safe hands of Mahela Jayawardene at first slip.

4.16pm - FIFTY! Root (106b 2x4 0x6) - Root tickles Herath down to fine-leg for three to bring up his half-century. It has only included two boundaries, but it has been about being watchful and giving himself, and England, a platform to cash in as the sun bakes this pitch flat.

4.08pm - Joe Root flicks Rangana Herath away for three and in doing so has passed 1,000 Test runs.

Afternoon Session

Highlights from the afternoon session where Joe Root and Moeen Ali took England to 195 for four

3.43pm - TEA! Eng 195/4; Root 43, Moeen 43 - Moeen finishes a good session for England by punching Thirimanne through cover-point for four. Only Bell fell in that session. Root and Moeen have added 75 runs for the fifth wicket since.

3.39pm - Sri Lanka are tightening things up just before tea. Three of the past five overs have been maidens. Lahiru Thirimanne is bowling the last over before the break with his part-time medium pace.

3.22pm - A rare false stroke from Moeen in the previous over from Pradeep. He is beaten as he tries to drive at a ball that may have slightly left him with the aid of the slope.

3.15pm - Root and Moeen continue to turn the strike over. They look untroubled at the moment and both are now nearing half-centuries. Sri Lanka may have to persist with Herath for a period of time as they have slipped behind the over-rate. They have bowled 46 overs and we have 20 minutes to go before tea.

3pm - Herath is brought back and Moeen welcomes him with a six. That's his first ball of spin in Test cricket too. With the field up he took the relatively risk-free decision to lift him over the rope just wide of long-on.

2.57pm - Nuwan Pradeep's first over back into the attack costs four runs. Root and Moeen are prodding away and looking to turn over the strike first and foremost. Their partnership is now worth 42.

2.47pm - Nuwan Kulasekara bounces Root with the first two balls after drinks. The Yorkshireman gets forward later in the over, though, and pushes away for a couple.

2.38pm - Sri Lanka have looked to follow Australia's lead from the winter and keep Joe Root on the back foot with the occasional bouncer. He has been easily able to evade anything dished out so far and has been prepared to wait for his moments to score. Moeen's quick rush of runs early have ensured he can continue to do that. It is an intriguing afternoon session.

2.28pm - England are moving along at a decent rate. The 50 runs from 100-150 came from 53 balls. The sun is out and the green tinge that was evident in the pitch this morning is starting to disappear. Sri Lanka keep plugging away, though, and the four wickets they have means England must still play with some vigilance.

2.19pm - Moeen finds the rope from successive Eranga deliveries again as England take 11 from the over.

2.10pm - Moeen's first runs in Test cricket are back-to-back boundaries. The first was a well-timed flick through midwicket. The second was not as controlled; a thick outside edge that flew low between slips and gully.

1.56pm - WICKET! Bell lbw Eranga 56; Eng 120/4 - A big wicket as Bell was looking in super touch. Sri Lanka use the Decision Review System for the first time in the series and they use it well. Eranga got the ball to seam back down the slope and in to Bell's pads. Umpire Paul Reiffel's initial not-out call is over-ruled as the replay shows Bell was just hit in line, while height was not a factor despite the right-hander getting a good stride in. Debutant Moeen Ali is the new man.

1.55pm - REVIEW! - Sri Lanka are reviewing a close lbw call against Bell.

1.48pm - FIFTY! Bell (69 balls 7x4 1x6) - Bell leans on another signature-style cover drive to the rope to bring up his half-century off Shaminda Eranga. He is looking in great touch.

1.45pm - We're back after the lunch break and Ian Bell begins the session by casually lifing Rangana Herath back over his head for six. That brings up the England 100.

Morning Session

Highlights from the morning session at Lord's where England reach lunch on 98 for three

1pm - LUNCH! Eng 98/3; Bell 41 Root 6 - A good morning of cricket and both sides will be fairly happy with the way it went. Sri Lanka's decision to bowl first was rewarded with three wickets. England have managed to score at a fairly healthy rate - just under four runs an over - and Ian Bell looks in fine touch as he closes on a half-century. Both men at the crease made a century here against Australia last summer.

12.58pm - Rangana Herath bowls an over of spin in the shadows of lunch. With the break so close Root and Bell are just happy to have a look and see out the over. Just one run from it.

12.48pm - Bell is all over anything that is over-pitched in this morning session. Eranga pays for that crime by seeing a splendid drive race past him to the rope. Then when he strays onto the pads Bell flicks away for three.

12.42pm - Joe Root gets off the mark with a drive through the vacant cover region for four. Sri Lanka might not mind him driving like that early, but it was a confident-looking stroke in any case.

12.31pm - WICKET! Ballance c Prasanna b Pradeep 23; Eng 74/3 - I've cursed Ballance! He aimed a full-blooded drive at a ball that just left him down the slope and Prasanna Jayawardene easily held on. Ballance maybe got carried away - like me - thinking conditions were getting better. A reminder there is always something in this wicket with the slope.

12.29pm - Ballance tucks Pradeep away up the slope and to the square-leg rope to bring up the fifty partnership with Bell. It has taken 73 balls, which is fairly good time after they were thrust together at 22 for two. Perhaps that is a sign the pitch is starting to flatten out now?

12.23pm - Bell is starting to look ominous. He leans on Mathews and pushes him back down the ground for another boundary. It's the sort of shot we got so used to during his stellar summer last year, which led to him being crowned England Men's Cricketer of the Year earlier this week.

12.14pm - Mathews brings himself on from the Pavilion End and Bell pushes him effortlessly up the hill for a boundary. The Warwickshire man is just starting to settle in.

12.03pm - Kulasekara changes his attack to around the wicket to Ballance that over. The Yorkshire left-hander edged just short of third slip before cutting narrowly past a diving Kaushal Silva at backward point for four. England go into the drinks break at 52 for two. 

11.53am - We have a change of bowling with Shaminda Eranga taking up the attack from the Nursery End. Bell welcomes him by pushing his first delivery, a no-ball, through cover for four. A typical Bell stroke.

11.40am - This is a tough opening for England's batsmen as Sri Lanka's new-ball bowlers continue to probe away on a full length. Gary Ballance has been joined by Ian Bell, who hit a century against Australia here 12 months ago after being cast into similar circumstances.

11.29am - WICKET! Cook b Kulasekara 17; Eng 22/2 - Cook tried to repeat that back-foot push through point off Kulasekara that brought him four in the first over. This time, however, gets an inside edge back onto his stumps. It has been a nervous start.

11.26am - There has been a little bit in the wicket early, as expected, and Pradeep has bowled well pitching the ball up and drawing a few false shots, most significantly for Robson's wicket. The most confident stroke so far was in the opening over when Cook pushed Kulasekara to the point rope.

11.17am - WICKET! Robson c Prasanna b Pradeep 1; Eng 14/1 - Robson only gets that single as he presses forward at a ball he could have left and got a healthy edge that Prasanna Jayawardene pouches diving to his right.

11.08am - After watching the first two overs from the non-striker's end, Sam Robson leave his first ball in Test cricket. He drops the second ball into the off side and scampers away for his first Test run.

11.04am - CHANCE! Cook is dropped by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene from the final ball of the opening over. It was a fine edge that the wicketkeeper seemed surprised by. It should have been comfortable, but the ball hit his gloves before he realised and it flew away for three. The replays don't show and edge, but runs were given by the umpire.

11am - Alastair Cook leaves the first ball from Nuwan Kulasekara, but prods at the second and almost gets an edge. The three awaiting slips thought they might be in business.

Pre-Play News

10.58am - The Sri Lanka players walk out onto the field first. Cook and Robson follow and we're almost ready to go in bright sunshine.

10.37am - So confirmation of the three new Test caps - Robson, Moeen and Jordan while Plunkett returns to Test ranks for the first time in seven years. Interestingly, Cook confirmed he would have batted first if he had won the toss.

10.35am - England team: Alastair Cook (capt), Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Mooen Ali, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, James Anderson.

10.27am - Just to confirm Sangakkara's record at Test level this year; he's the leading runscorer in the world with 649 at an average of 92.71. Those runs were made on the sub-continent, but his two-game spell with Durham in the LV= County Championship, as well as the limited overs series, will have done him no harm in acclimatising to English conditions.

10.25am - Sri Lanka, of course, have plenty of old heads to call on. Kumar Sangakkara has been in sensational form in Test cricket this year while Mahela Jayawardene's two centuries in England have both come here at Lord's. If you are a bit rusty on you knowledge of the tourists take a look at our pen-pics for the Sri Lanka players.

10.20am - So it appears we will see three Test debutants for England today, just like we had at the end of the Ashes series in Sydney during the winter. Gary Ballance, Boyd Rankin and Scott Borthwick made their Test bows that day. Ballance plays again today so their if we are to have three new names there is inexperience at this level in the team.

10.08am - The England and Sri Lanka players are out on the ground at the moment preparing to go through their paces. The tourists are donning garish high-vis bibs, but not for a pre-World Cup game of football. Instead they're playing a game of catch-and-move, rather than the pass-and-move we might expect from Brazil tonight. Similar coloured shirts though.

10am - There is a heightened sense of anticipation hanging around Lord's this morning. Part of that is the start of the Test summer, but obviously the start to life under new Head Coach Peter Moores and the prospect of three Test debutants adds to the occasion.

9.46am - Skipper Alastair Cook confirmed yesterday that we will have at least two debutants today with Sam Robson set to open alongside him while Moeen Ali has been inked in at six. Cook actually revealed England's top six in the pre-Test press conference. There could also be a first cap for Chris Jordan while Liam Plunkett is hoping for a Test recall after seven years. There will be some nervous players awaiting the team news this morning.

9.45am - The start of the first Test of the summer is just over an hour away and we have an absolute picture-perfect day here at Lord's. What better way to start a new era?

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