Keaton Jennings century pushes England to within sight of victory over Sri Lanka in first Test

Keaton Jennings has hd to wait nearly two years for his second Test ton — his first came on his debut. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
0

Keaton Jennings century pushes England to within sight of victory over Sri Lanka in first Test

  • Tourists in a commanding position in first clash of a three-match series in Sri Lanka.
  • Jennings acores 146 not out to score only his second Test century.

GALLE, SRI LANKA: Keaton Jennings’s first century since his 2016 debut helped England put Sri Lanka on the ropes in the first Test on Thursday, setting the hosts a daunting 462 to win at notoriously low-scoring Galle.
The visitors declared at 322 for six on day three with Jennings 146 not out after a patient innings that saw the under-pressure opener deal deftly with the hosts’ spin attack.
At the close, Sri Lanka were 15 without loss after Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva hung on for seven overs, leaving a further 447 to make at a ground where no team has successfully chased more than 99.
England, with a 139-run first-innings lead and 38-0 overnight, lost a somewhat shaky Rory Burns, brought in to fill the huge shoes of the retired Alastair Cook, in the morning session, run out for 23.
Moeen Ali, out first ball in the first innings, fared little better in the second, driving straight to Rangana Herath at mid-on off Dilruwan Perera for three.
Herath, in his last game before retiring having got his landmark 100th wicket at Galle, then got England captain Joe Root out for the second time in the match, caught behind for three.
But Jennings looked comfortable against the spin of Perera and the others. An LBW appeal when Jennings was on 58 was turned down and Sri Lanka chose — erroneously it turned out — not to review.
Ben Stokes hit a brisk 62 off 93 balls that saw three sixes, including one back over Perera’s head and an almighty sweep high over midwicket off Dhananjaya de Silva to bring up the 300.
Shortly before tea he became Perera’s second scalp, a demon of a ball pitching outside leg and angling back to take the Durham all-rounder’s off stump.
Jos Buttler smashed a quick 35 before being caught off Herath while Ben Foakes, the centurion hero of the first innings, belted out 37 before falling to spinner Akila Dananjaya.
Jennings’ performance will go some way to silencing his critics — many of whom were calling for him to be dropped after a poor series against India this summer when he averaged just 18.
Having scored 112 at Mumbai in December 2016 on his debut, he was axed after a disastrous tour of his native South Africa in 2017. He returned against Pakistan in May this year.
After stumps on Thursday the 26-year-old conceded that the past 18 months had been “really tough.”
“I’ve faced some things in my cricketing life I’ve had to learn from. I’ve had to develop myself,” Jennings said.
“It’s just really pleasing and a big thank you to the people who have stuck with me over the last 18 months, backed me through some tough times, waking in the night panicking and stressing,” he said.
“When you’re waking up at 6.30 in the morning and reading about your technical deficiencies it’s not human to say it wouldn’t affect you,” he added.
“I have only watched Keaton Jennings live in two test matches and he has got a hundred in both I must be his lucky charm !!!,” former England great Allan Lamb said on Twitter.
“Well played fantastic and thoroughly deserved by the hard work.”
Sri Lanka’s spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge said however that the hosts still have a chance to win, in part because the notorious Galle wicket is behaving differently this time.
“There is a big challenge, but it’s not the kind of wicket we usually see in Galle. If the batsmen do their duty, the 440-odd that we need will be tough, but it’s not impossible,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s best hope though is the weather, with rain playing havoc with the series so far and thunderstorms forecast for Galle on Friday and on Saturday — should the hosts survive day four.


Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

Updated 21 April 2019
0

Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

  • The 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets

NEW YORK: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points and grab 16 rebounds, powering the 76ers to a 112-108 NBA playoff victory at Brooklyn on Saturday.
Despite a third-quarter incident that saw two players ejected, the 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets and could advance in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup with a home victory Tuesday.
In the other Eastern Conference game, Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and nine rebounds as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks put the Detroit Pistons on the brink of elimination with a 119-103 win. The victory give the Bucks a 3-0 lead and they can wrap up the series with a win on the road in the Motor City on Monday.
Philadelphia, down by 10 points early in the third quarter, battled back most of the second half before taking the lead on a run of eight points by Embiid, who missed game three with a sore left knee.
A slam dunk and layup by Embiid gave the 76ers their first late lead at 102-101 but, after an exchange of layups and three-pointers as well as turnovers, fell behind 108-107 on a basket by Brooklyn’s Joe Harris with 25 seconds remaining.
On the next 76er possession, Embiid flipped the last of his seven assists to Mike Scott, whose corner three-pointer put Philadelphia ahead to stay 110-108 with 19 seconds remaining.
Australian Ben Simmons — who added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the 76ers — stole the ball from Brooklyn’s Jarett Allen and Tobias Harris sank two free throws for the last of his 24 points to clinch the triumph.
Caris LeVert led the Nets with 25 points while Brooklyn had 21 points each from Allen and D’Angelo Russell.
Cameroon star center Embiid was issued a flagrant foul in touching off an altercation 4:18 into the third quarter that saw Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley ejected. Embiid, who had elbowed Allen in the face in game two, was whistled for a hard foul on Allen that prompted Dudley to rush at Embiid, taking down the Sixers big man. Butler swung his left arm at Dudley, who wound up in the front row seats with Simmons at one stage, to earn his ejection.
In Detroit, Brook Lopez tallied 19 points and had seven rebounds and five blocked shots and Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered 14 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double in the series and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 12 points.
Detroit’s hobbled star Blake Griffin had 27 points in 31 minutes after he missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee.
Griffin was cleared with his leg heavily wrapped but it didn’t change the outcome.
The Pistons have now lost 13 straight playoff games dating back to 2008. In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets — led by game highs of 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists from Serbian playmaker Nikola Jokic — pulled level with San Antonio at 2-2 in their opening series with a 117-103 road triumph over the Spurs.