England’s Joe Root batted ‘out of this world’ in ‘perfect example’ of how to play spin, says Rob Key

Rob Key says Joe Root batted “out of this world” as he delivered a “perfect example” of how to play spin during his double century in England’s win over Sri Lanka in Galle.

England captain Root scored 228 – his 18th Test hundred and fourth double ton – and collected more runs with the sweep shot than he had done in any of his previous innings.

The 30-year-old’s knock came after Sri Lanka had been bowled for 135 in their first innings of a game England went on to win by seven wickets to move 1-0 up in the two-match series.

  • England beat Sri Lanka in first Test
  • Scorecard from Galle

Sky Sports Cricket expert Rob Key said of Root, who passed 8,000 Test runs during his knock: “Because he is such a good player, and because of the way he made it look so easy, you almost take it for granted.

“It wasn’t that easy a pitch and he batted out of this world. He barely played and missed, barely put a foot wrong in terms of going forward to a ball he should have gone back to.

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“It was like every single decision in a double hundred he got right. He timed the ball beautifully – he never looks to hit the ball too hard.

“I think it was as near a perfect knock as you can play in these conditions. If you wanted to know how to play spin or if you were coaching young players, this is the absolute template.

“Defence, how to sweep, how to rotate strike – he gave a perfect example of every single part of playing spin.”

Former Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene added of Root: “He batted on a different surface and was the difference between the sides – batting for long periods and controlling the situation.

“On a wicket like this, if a batsman can get 228 he is definitely going to be man of the match as it is not easy. He didn’t give any clear-cut chances. He looked absolutely brilliant.”

Arthur: Sri Lanka’s first-innings ‘unacceptable’

Sri Lanka’s first-innings batting was in complete contrast to Root’s, with a series of reckless shots seeing the hosts skittled in 46.1 overs.

Dinesh Chandimal’s side fared better in their second knock, posting 359, but coach Mickey Arthur was left to lament their “unacceptable” day one.

He said: “Our first innings was very poor, it was an unacceptable batting performance. I was very happy with what I saw on days three and four but we can’t give up a Test match like we did on day one again and expect to get a positive result.

“I take a lot of positivity out of how we responded but days one and two were unacceptable and can’t happen again for us to move forward.

“Batting in Sri Lanka is all about patience, it’s about trusting your technique, wearing the opposition down and grinding away. The guys responded very nicely in the second innings but it was too late.”

Arthur also said batsman Kusal Mendis could be in line for a break during the second Test having recorded a fourth straight Test duck in Sri Lanka’s first innings before making only 15 in their second.

“I think Kusal Mendis is a wonderful player and he will score a lot of runs in the future for Sri Lanka, but he has been under pressure,” added Arthur.

“We spoke long and hard about him playing in this Test match, we thought coming back to familiar conditions might just trigger it for him. That’s a discussion that we will have again in the next day or two.”

Watch day one of the second and final Test between Sri Lanka and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am on Friday.

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