England v Sri Lanka: Moeen Ali & Chris Woakes put hosts in control

By James GheerbrantBBC Sport
Second Test, Chester-le-Street, day two:
England 498-9 dec: Moeen 155*, Hales 83, Root 80, Pradeep 4-107
Sri Lanka 91-8: K Mendis 35, Woakes 3-9, Broad 3-35

Moeen Ali hit his second Test century and Chris Woakes produced his best figures with bat and ball as England seized control of the second Test against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street.

Resuming on 310-6, England progressed to 498-9 declared.

Moeen, 28 not out overnight, compiled an unbeaten 155 and Woakes added 39.

And the Warwickshire all-rounder returned with the ball to destroy Sri Lanka, picking up 3-9 as the tourists slumped to 91-8, still 407 runs behind.

After an even first day, for Sri Lanka this was an unwelcome return to the failings of the first Test as they lost control of the game with the ball and then produced an indisciplined performance with the bat.

It now seems inevitable England will wrap up a second successive win - and with it the three-match series.

Magnificent Moeen makes his mark...

Moeen Ali plays a pull shot
Moeen Ali hit 17 fours and two sixes

Having passed 40 just once in his previous 17 Test innings, there were some question marks over Moeen's batting going into this match.

But the all-rounder delivered a superb riposte to his critics with a magnificent innings full of his trademark flowing drives and wristy flicks.

Moeen extended his partnership with Woakes to 92, then once Woakes was caught behind he cut loose, going to his century with a lofted straight drive for a one-bounce four and clouting two sixes.

He also passed 1,000 Test runs during the course of his innings - becoming the fifth-fastest Englishman to achieve the double of 1,000 runs and 50 wickets.

Both of Moeen's Test hundreds have come at number seven - a position where he now averages 276 - and this innings will intensify the debate over whether he should bat higher up the order for England.

...and Woakes stakes his claim

While one all-rounder was solidifying his place in his side, another was making his claim to be a established member of it.

Woakes's Test career so far has been thwarted - he averaged 21.50 with the bat and 63.75 with the ball before this match - but here he proved that he can be effective at the highest level of the game.

First he passed his previous highest Test score of 26 with a well-paced innings in the morning session.

Then he translated the bowling form that had seen him take 9-34 in a County Championship match earlier this week to the Test arena.

Bowling with pace and control, he induced thin edges from Angelo Mathews and Milinda Siriwardana, and took the shoulder of Kusal Mendis's bat with a vicious delivery which looped to gully.

Sloppy Sri Lanka let it slip

Milinda Siriwardana is dismissed by Chris Woakes
Milinda Siriwardana was one of four Sri Lanka batsmen caught by Jonny Bairstow

Sri Lanka were thoroughly outplayed on a dreadful day for the tourists which will likely end their competitive involvement in the series.

Having caught brilliantly on the first day, Sri Lanka undid all their good work in the field - and set the tone for the day - by shelling two catches in the opening half-hour.

First Dimuth Karunaratne spilt Moeen at slip when he was on 36, then wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal missed the simplest of chances to reprieve Woakes on eight.

Their tactics in the field were also baffling at times, as they allowed Moeen to keep strike even when he was batting in partnership with Steven Finn and James Anderson.

And their woes continued with the bat, with seven batsmen falling to catches behind the wicket following the early dismissal of Karunaratne who was bowled.

What they said

England all-rounder Moeen Ali on Sky Sports: "It was perfect, especially the way we bowled. To have them eight down is a brilliant evening. I think we would make them follow-on and try to bowl them out again.

"It's about time I got some runs, I felt like I owed the team. Today was a great feeling. I like playing with freedom so, if I see it, I go for it.

"My off-side play is a strength and weakness, so I will keep playing that way. I enjoy batting at number six, but batting eight hasn't fazed me. I have to get scores if I want to go up the order."

Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on BBC Test Match Special: "It's men against boys, a mismatch. I said early in the match that Sri Lanka are just not good enough in any department to compete against England.

"Yesterday they caught brilliantly and the seamers kept them in the game, but today they were awful. Three catches went down, and the keeper never even got his gloves on a straightforward nick.

"The ground fielding was scrappy, the captaincy got worse, he spread the field and had seven or eight on the boundary for Moeen. What chance do the bowlers have there? That was the worst day I've seen from Angelo Mathews, and I like his captaincy."

Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott review the day's play on the TMS podcast.

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