Sri Lanka endured a poor morning, starting with the news that their captain Dimuth Karunaratne was ruled out with a thumb injury. Dinesh Chandimal stepped up and won the toss, unsurprisingly opting to bat first.
England selected Broad over James Anderson and Mark Wood ahead of Olly Stone and gave a debut to Dan Lawrence, the Essex batsman.
Sri Lanka made it through the first six overs, before an inspired bit of captaincy and bowling saw England earn a double breakthrough.
For Broad, Joe Root placed the recalled Jonny Bairstow in the leg-gully region, where the ball had regularly flown early on. Lahiru Thirimanne, who kept his place because of Karunaratne’s injury, duly sent the ball straight to Bairstow, who took a smart catch.
Two balls later, Broad bowled a neat legcutter to the groping Kusal Mendis, who was caught behind. After a second innings duck in Centurion and a pair at the Wanderers, Mendis had recorded nought in his last four innings – an Audi.
Kusal Perera had scored 20 of Sri Lanka’s first 25 runs and was in a customarily attacking mood. That cost him, though, when Dom Bess entered the attack and Perera gloved a reverse sweep straight to Root at slip. At 25 for three, England could barely believe the generosity.
That brought Sri Lanka’s best batsmen, Angelo Mathews and Chandimal, together, and they survived until lunch (when Sri Lanka were 65 for three), but not without a scare. Lawrence dropped at Chandimal at cover on 22 off Jack Leach. It was a simple chance that should have been taken.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 14, 2021
Despite no-one but the teams being at the ground, the over-rate was painfully slow but for once the fielding side were not at fault. The sightscreen at one end malfunctioned, then Mathews called for a chest guard, with Wood touching 93mph. Just three overs were bowled in the first 25 minutes, and drinks were taken after 55 balls. Despite two spinner bowling 12 between them, just 24 overs were bowled in the morning session.
England wore black armbands in memory of three former players who have died since they last played, John Edrich, Robin Jackman and Don Smith.