Joe Root produced another masterpiece of sub-continental batting with a wonderful century that carried the England cause almost single-handedly in the second Test at Galle.
Root became the first England batsman to score over 150 in consecutive Tests in 16 years as he tormented Sri Lanka and led his side to 339 for nine in their first innings at the close of play on day three yesterday.
However, the tired and cramping England captain was dismissed in the final over of the day for 186, run out after clipping the ball to short leg Oshada Fernando.
The England captain had never before hit hundreds in back-to-back matches but there was an air of inevitability about his 19th Test ton, with his team endlessly grateful for his stocks of class and concentration across 309 balls.
Continuing to lay emphasis on sweeps and reverse sweeps, the right-hand batsman taking calculated risks has worked tremendously well in his favour. In between the scoring shots, Root put on display a confident defensive game not hesitating in committing to his front-foot game.
With England losing four wickets for not too many runs, the 30-year old batsman has taken the onus upon himself to steer the English ship for the second consecutive time in the series.
In what is his 19th Test century overall, fourth in Asia and third in Sri Lanka, it is worth mentioning that Root has become only the first English batsman to score two centuries in a Test series in Sri Lanka.
Root followed up his 228 in the first Test to match the feat of Marcus Trescothick, who scored 194 and 151 in consecutive tests against Bangladesh in 2005.
He had failed to score a test century in 2020, the first time in his career he went a calendar year without a ton, and his return to form will be welcome as England head into four tests in India straight after this series.
"It was an amazing innings," Root's team mate Jos Buttler told reporters. "To back up his double hundred in the first test was a challenge both physically and mentally, and it has been a masterclass in batting against spin.
"It's a great education for all of us, Not just the tactical and technical aspects, but also the concentration to apply himself for so long. "There were some amazing shots that show the confidence and skill level. He even played a late cut left-handed today. Everybody can learn a lot from watching Joe play spin."
England still trail by 42 runs and will seek to wipe out the deficit with Jack Leach and Stuart Broad at the crease on the fourth morning, although Sri Lanka spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been excellent with career best figures of 7-132.