Cricket

Jonny Bairstow hit his second Test century, on his home ground.

Jonny Bairstow hits second century to lead England recovery against Sri Lanka

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Jonny Bairstow completed his second Test century, on his home ground at Headingley, to extend his transformation of England's first innings against Sri Lanka.

Bairstow (103no), prolific for much of the past year and especially here for club and now country, moved from his overnight 54 into three figures in England's lunchtime 243 for eight on day two of this first Investec Test.

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There was to be no hard-earned maiden century for Alex Hales, though, the opener grinding to a near halt and eventually having to settle for a career-best 86 from 244 balls in almost five and a half hours.

England's sixth-wicket pair nonetheless served the hosts very well, in a stand of 141 after joining forces on a highly vulnerable 83 for five.

Their century partnership arrived after only 10 minutes of another cloudy morning, Bairstow overwhelmingly the dominant force with 67 of those hundred runs.

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By the end of the session, he had passed his richly-deserved hundred - thanks to an overthrow from Kaushal Silva at cover for the two scurried runs still required, before raising his arms aloft to a delighted crowd on his home turf.

Hales had needed 12 balls to reopen his account, with a single off Nuwan Pradeep, as Sri Lanka's seamers beat both batsmen several times in testing conditions.

It was from the full face of the bat that Bairstow offered a clear-cut chance on 70 when he mistimed a drive back at Pradeep - who lost his footing as the ball arrived and put it down.

Bairstow has, however, often batted at a new level since his return to the Test team mid-Ashes last summer - and so it was again.

The wickekteeper-batsman's footwork was decisive, back or forward, and he barely missed a scoring or boundary opportunity - running with urgency too to ensure a healthy exchange of strike.

He prospered en route to his 145-ball hundred, including 10 fours and a six, with a proactive approach which was a blessing for Hales too as the pressure mounted at the other end.

There were only seven runs for the opener in the first hour as he once again, in his own words from the previous evening's press conference, "reined in" the attacking instincts which are so successful in white-ball cricket.

He got stuck, though - and could not take advantage of a let-off on 82, dropped at second slip off Angelo Mathews, holing out soon afterwards when he drove Rangana Herath to deep extra-cover.

By then, he had failed to hit a boundary from 52 more balls and added only 15 runs after closing a rain-shortened first day on 71.

Moeen Ali failed to provide Bairstow with any further support, caught at short-leg from a thick edge on to pad off Dushmantha Chameera - the third duck of England's decidedly patchy collective performance - and then Stuart Broad mustered just two before he edged the same bowler on to his stumps four balls later.

England had lost three wickets for nine runs, but Bairstow held firm to complete his century in company with Steven Finn.

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Jonny Bairstow

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