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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Joe Root says England have no issues about facing Sri Lanka's Akila Dananjaya in second Test

England captain takes sympathetic view of spinner's situation after he is allowed to play in Pallakele despite question marks over bowling action

Sri Lankan spinner Akila Dananjaya was given 14 days to undergo assessment at an ICC testing centre but was cleared to bowl in the interim. AFP
Sri Lankan spinner Akila Dananjaya was given 14 days to undergo assessment at an ICC testing centre but was cleared to bowl in the interim. AFP

England captain Joe Root insists his side have no qualms about facing spinner Akila Dananjaya in the second Test against Sri Lanka, despite question marks over his action.

Dananjaya was reported to the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the tourists' victory in Galle, with umpires Chris Gaffaney and Marais Erasmus querying the legality of his stock off-spin delivery in their official report.

He was given 14 days to undergo assessment at an ICC testing centre but was cleared to bowl in the interim, and Sri Lanka captain Suranga Lakmal confirmed he would be in the home XI at Pallakele Stadium on Wednesday.

England are relaxed about facing Dananjaya, 25, who took just two wickets for 183 runs in almost 39 overs at Galle, with Root taking a sympathetic view.

"Whenever you see someone have a question mark against their action you hope they can get through that testing and that it doesn't hamper their career," he said.

"I think that's an unfortunate thing he has to deal with but ultimately, for us, we played him pretty well throughout the last game and we'll just have to try and do exactly the same this time.

"It didn't really stand out to me personally, but it doesn't really matter what his action is like – it's how well we play him. Ultimately it comes down to us playing the ball not the guy bowling or the action.

"It'll be interesting to see how things turn out for him. Hopefully he gets cleared and he can carry on playing because it's never nice to see."

Lakmal, who will lead the hosts in Kandy in the absence of the injured Dinesh Chandimal, has thrown his support behind a player who has been pegged for a big role in the aftermath of Rangana Herath's retirement.

"There are no rules from the ICC saying he cannot play – he can still play and he's in a good mentality, so he will still play the next match and correct his mistake," the seamer said.

"I talked to him and said 'don't worry about anything – just focus on this game'. I'm sure he will get cleared for the next match.

"He's bowled well in the past and he has to do that again. Getting reported is just another thing, forget that and bowl well in this game."

England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, second from left, was named Man of the Match in his first Test. Getty Images
England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, second from left, was named Man of the Match in his first Test. Getty Images

Meanwhile, Ben Foakes retained the wicketkeeper's position after his dream debut in Galle as England named an unchanged XI for the second Test.

The tourists' batting order is set to be rejigged, though, with Ben Stokes replacing Moeen Ali, who managed zero and three in Galle, at No 3, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on its website.

Moeen, who claimed eight wickets in the series opener which England won by 211 runs inside four days, will bat at No 6 instead.

With Jonny Bairstow fit and available for selection after sitting out of the series opener with an ankle injury, England captain Joe Root had faced a selection dilemma.

Replacing the injured Bairstow at Galle, Foakes' century on debut and tidy glovework behind the stumps eventually clinched it in his favour.

His 107 in the first innings was key to England's comprehensive victory, also earning him the Man of the Match award.

"Ben is going to keep," Root said in comments published by The Independent before the team was announced. "We've come to Sri Lanka to win this tour. And in these conditions, I think Ben is the best option behind the stumps.

"It's a great opportunity for Ben to show his ability, and I think you've got to reward a performance like last week."

Root said his Yorkshire teammate Bairstow, who has strengthened England's lower-middle order with his batting and worked hard on his wicketkeeping, still had a role to play in the Test side.

"Jonny is a fine keeper and what he's done over the last couple of years has been exceptional," Root added.

"He's pretty much been faultless, not really stood out at all, which is probably a good thing for a wicketkeeper, and long-term I see him as a focal part of the test team."