GALLE, Sri Lanka, Nov 6 (Reuters) - England made an unconvincing start to life after Alastair Cook on Tuesday, reaching 113 for five wickets at lunch on the opening day of the first test against Sri Lanka.
Playing their first test since the retirement of their top-order stalwart, England were jolted by two wickets in two balls from Suranga Lakmal before the Sri Lankan spinners drove home the advantage in the opener of the three-test series.
Jos Buttler was on 10 at the break and debutant Ben Foakes on five with the tourists needing a solid effort from their bottom half to post a competitive total.
England captain Joe Root had opted to bat first in order to avoid the prospect of batting fourth at a famously spin-friendly venue but it was the pace of Lakmal that undid their top order.
Rory Burns (nine) disappointed on his test debut and Moeen Ali (nought) failed to justify his promotion to number three.
Lakmal crowded Burns in down the leg side before sending Moeen’s off-stump cartwheeling with the next delivery to reduce England to 10 for two.
Root denied Lakmal a hat-trick and started the rebuilding job, initially at a run-a-ball rate, with Keaton Jennings.
Sri Lanka wasted both their reviews inside 12 overs but it was the golden arm of retiring 40-year-old Rangana Herath that ended Root’s 62-run stand with Jennings.
Herath, who was given a guard-of-honour by his team mates ahead of his 93rd and final test, yorked an advancing Root to claim his 100th wicket at the venue where he made his test debut in 1999.
Root hit five boundaries in his fluent 35 before paying for his recklessness.
Dilruwan Perera struck twice in his second spell to dismiss Jennings (46) and Ben Stokes (seven), clean bowling both the left-handers to further peg back England. (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)