GALLE, Sri Lanka, Nov 6 (Reuters) - England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat in the first match of a three-test series against Sri Lanka at Galle on Tuesday.
The tourists handed maiden test caps to opener Rory Burns and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, the latter replacing the injured Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.
Fellow glovesman Jos Buttler was selected purely as a batsman but Joe Denly’s test debut will have to wait as England decided to have Moeen Ali at the number three position.
Root agreed England were wary of batting fourth at the famously spin-friendly venue, though heavy overnight rain and an early morning breeze meant they also had to be careful early on.
“I think that (the history of Galle) made a big part of it, fourth innings will be quite hard to bat. It may be difficult for the first hour this morning too,” he said at the toss.
For the hosts, Rangana Herath’s 93rd test will be the last for the 40-year-old, who has established himself as the most successful left-arm spinner in test history with 430 wickets.
“It’s a special day for us and Rangana,” Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who also wanted to bat, said of his retiring team mate.
“We want to give him a fond farewell. We all know how much he has done for Sri Lankan cricket. He’s a big part of our test squad.”
England: Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings, Moeen Ali, Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Jack Leach, James Anderson
Sri Lanka: Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(captain), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, wicketkeeper), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)