The wicketkeeper-batsman slammed an unbeaten 87 in his maiden Test innings to dig England out of a hole on the opening day as the tourists posted 321-8 before stumps were drawn.
The morning session had belonged to the Sri Lankans after England skipper Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat first.
England debutant Rory Burns and Moeen Ali fell to Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal in the morning off consecutive deliveries as the visitors slumped to 10-2. Burns’ opening partner Keaton Jennings and Root then put on an 88-run stand for the third wicket before the England skipper became Rangana Herath’s 100th Test dismissal at Galle.
The retiring Sri Lankan veteran spinner did not have it all his way in the remainder of the day with Akila Dananjaya failing to impose himself with the ball too.
It was Dilruwan Perera who was Sri Lanka’s most effective spinner on the day with a four-wicket haul.
The off-spinner bowled Jennings through his gates with the England opener falling short of his half-century by four runs. Perera then bowled star all-rounder Ben Stokes around his legs at the stroke of lunch with the visitors reduced to 103-5.
From then on, it was the Foakes’ show with the debutant stitching consecutive half-century stands with Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid.
Buttler became Perera’s third victim of the day after edging a delivery behind to Niroshan Dickwella while Curran fell on 48 to Dananjaya.
Rashid was the last England batsman to fall on the day with the leg-spinner edging a Perera delivery into the hands of Dhananjaya de Silva at slip.
Foakes, though, remained unconquered as he put the visitors in a position of strength after an eventful opening day at the Galle International Stadium. The 25-year-old struck six boundaries in his unbeaten 187-ball vigil at the crease and will look to notch a special ton on debut when play resumes on Wednesday.
BRIEF SCORES DAY 1
England: 321-8 (91 overs)
Ben Foakes – 87no
Sam Curran – 48
Dilruwan Perera: 4-70
Provided by Press Association Sport
Know more about Sport360 Application
Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath, the most successful left-arm spinner in history, claimed his 100th scalp at Galle on Tuesday in his farewell match as England struggled 113 for 5 at lunch in the first Test.
Only two other bowlers have achieved 100 wickets at the same ground — Herath’s compatriot Muttiah Muralitharan who achieved it at Galle, Kandy and SSC Colombo, and England paceman James Anderson at Lord’s.
Herath notched up the milestone with none other than England captain Joe Root, who came down the wicket and missed after a breezy 35.
The innings helped the Pakistan man breach the 1,000-run mark in T20I cricket. In the process, Babar became the fastest batsman to reach the milestone, taking only 26 innings to get to the mark.
And it is that very man that the right-hander wants to model his game upon.
“My role model is AB de Villiers and after him Virat Kohli who I even follow now. What is not good about Virat Kohli? Everything is good about him. What I like the most is his confidence when he arrives at the crease,” Babar said after his heroics on Sunday.
“If he’s scored a hundred in the previous game, he still comes to the next game as though he has not done anything and aims higher. His confidence, balance, the way he treats bowlers. What he does, I want to try to do the same,” he added.
This is not the first time that the Pakistan star has spoken about his admiration for the skipper of Pakistan’s arch-rivals. The 24-year-old has time and again been compared to Kohli ever since he entered the fray in international cricket.
“I do not just copy Virat Kohli, but I really follow him. I dream of becoming like him. Some people compare me with Virat, while there’s no comparison as I am just in the beginning. I feel that I cannot be just like him, but it can be closer to his instinct of playing,” he had stated in an earlier interview.
Given the mountain of runs and tons Kohli has notched up, Pakistan fans will not be overjoyed if Babar can achieve even a fraction of the India batsman’s success.