Benedict Bermange

Cricket Statistician

Sky Sports statistician Benedict Bermange is using a cricket simulation to play out a Virtual Test Match of the postponed series between Sri Lanka and England

Last Updated: 21/03/20 1:05pm

Joe Root missed out on a century but his side are bossing the Virtual Test against Sri Lanka

Joe Root missed out on a century but his side are bossing the Virtual Test against Sri Lanka

England’s lower order did them proud and they will be confident of pressing home their advantage after an excellent third day of the Virtual Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

Sky Sports statistician Benedict Bermange is using a cricket simulation that takes into account batting averages, strike-rates, bowling averages and bowling speeds and plays out a five-day Test match based on those figures.

Joe Root (95) and Jos Buttler (86no) may have missed out on centuries, but there was still a lot to be positive about after a solid batting performance against a Sri Lanka attack who tried gamely, but lacked a cutting edge.

England were dismissed for 437 while Sri Lanka closed on 39-0 to trail by 121 heading into day four.

The match summary after day three of the Virtual Test in Galle

The match summary after day three of the Virtual Test in Galle

However, the day could not have started in worse style for England as Ben Stokes was squared up to the fifth delivery of Vishwa Fernando’s opening over and skewed a catch to Oshada Fernando in the gully to fall for 38.

Ollie Pope – the heir-apparent to Joe Root’s position as England’s leading batsman – joined his captain at the crease and started circumspectly in the face of some accurate bowling.

Root had moved to within five runs of what would have been an 18th Test century, but in the first over after the drinks break he dragged his back foot fractionally out of his crease to be smartly stumped by Niroshan Dickwella.

It was another failed conversion by the England captain, but the satisfaction gained from his innings was to increase later in the day as England prospered in the afternoon sun.

Pope followed soon afterwards, edging the impressive Vishwa to Dickwella behind the stumps for 16, which left England tottering a little at 273-6, still four runs behind Sri Lanka’s-first innings total.

However, after lunch, the partnership between Buttler and Sam Curran blossomed to reach 83 before Curran was a tad unfortunate to glove a Dilruwan Perera leg-side offering behind.

Suitably inspired, the off-spinner proceeded to snap up both Dom Bess and Jack Leach in his next four overs and last man Stuart Broad strode to the crease with the score 385-9 half an hour before tea.

Finding the Sri Lankan bowling attack more to his liking than his recent ordeals by pace against Australia and South Africa, Broad played sensibly and supported Buttler as England continued to increase their lead in the final session.

Buttler was only 14 runs short of a long-awaited second Test century when Broad missed a forward lunge to Lasith Embuldeniya which even his customary review couldn’t over-rule.

Faced with a tricky session of just over an hour to bat, Sri Lanka batted out the day, albeit not without total alarm.

The feeling is that the England spinners will have an important role to play if they are going to help press home the advantage and convert their solid batting effort into a fifth successive Test victory on the island.

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