Jonny Bairstow declared himself “chuffed” with his half-century scored on a tricky pitch that made batting “hard work” for an England side clinging on in the series.
England were surprised by the amount of grass left on the pitch and their suspicions they would be playing on a flat deck with the hosts looking to protect a 1-0 lead were disproved as soon as they arrived at the ground and the covers were peeled back.
Bairstow scored a century in his first innings batting in his new position at three in Sri Lanka before Christmas but this was just as worthy given the nature of the conditions and how it helped avert another first innings disaster for a team bowled out for 77 last week. Bairstow said a tougher day one pitch “could not spring to mind” but it can only be judged by how West Indies cope today with Kemar Roach declaring 250 a par score.
Bairstow counter attacked with a flurry of boundaries despite seeing a succession of batsmen undone by the variable bounce, particularly Joe Root who was out to a nasty lifter that struck his glove off a good length.
“It was hard work. It wasn’t easy. The variable bounce was going on from ball one,” said Bairstow. “Joe got one that bounced from a decent length and that carried on throughout the day whether to right hander or left. There is a reason why they bowled when winning the toss. Normally you see people in Test cricket winning the toss and batting so there was a ploy there. The pitch was a bit soft and you could see that from the indentations the ball left on it.