Hales, Bairstow steady England
LEEDS, England (AP):
Opener Alex Hales and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow led a steady recovery as England reached 171 for five against Sri Lanka at stumps yesterday on a rain-shortened first day of the opening Test.
Seamer Dasun Shanaka took three wickets in two overs on debut to put England in trouble at 83 for five, but Hales - 71 not out - and Bairstow - unbeaten with 54 - fought back.
They combined for an unbeaten 88-run partnership before the entire final session at Headingley was washed out by rain.
Shanaka removed captain Alastair Cook and No. 3 Nick Compton in four balls after Sri Lanka - buoyed by overcast conditions and a green pitch - asked England to bat. Shanaka also snared home favourite Joe Root, England's form batsman, soon after for a duck. All three were caught behind the wicket as Shanaka made use of the seam-friendly conditions.
Cook's dismissal for 16 as he attempted an expansive cover drive left him 20 short of 10,000 Test runs.
Number five batsman James Vince made nine on his test debut, while big-hitting all-rounder Ben Stokes blasted three fours, but lasted only nine balls for 12.
England made slow progress in the morning, but were still 49 for no wicket before Shanaka's three strikes, and one each for fellow quicks Sharminda Eranga and Nuwan Pradeep put the home team in deep trouble. At one stage, Shanaka had figures of three for six off three overs. He ended the day with three for 30.
Hales played with great determination for his highest score in Test cricket, and just his second half-century. He battled through the tough early period then hit 12 fours to anchor England's first innings of the summer season.
Bairstow, another who plays his county cricket at Headingley, fared better than fellow Yorkshireman Root. His counterattacking innings was peppered with six fours and a six as he scored at a brisk rate to gain England some momentum in the afternoon before rain brought it to a halt.