Matthew Fisher lands a five-for as England Lions make strides against Sri Lanka A

Matthew Fisher claimed a five-wicket haul on the first day at Galle SLC

England Lions 249 for 3 (Hameed 81, Haines 62*, Lees 56) lead Sri Lanka A 136 (Fisher 5-34) by 113 runs

Matthew Fisher took a sizeable step forward in his return from injury with career-best figures of 5 for 34 on the opening day of England Lions' first "Test" against Sri Lanka A in Galle.

Playing in just his fourth first-class match since the start of 2022, the first of those being a full Test debut against West Indies, the Yorkshire seamer's third five-wicket haul of his career helped bowl the hosts out for 136. The Lions went on to close day one on 249 for 3, a lead of 113, thanks to half-centuries from skipper Haseeb Hameed, Alex Lees and Tom Haines, who remains unbeaten overnight on 62.

Fisher's figures are the best taken at this level in Sri Lanka, surpassing Ashley Giles' 5 for 43 from 1998, and perhaps reflect a new stage in the 25-year-old's career. A stress fracture of the back restricted him to just two Championship matches at the start and end of Yorkshire's 2022 season which culminated in relegation to Division 2. But rehabilitation involved bulking up to look "like an Australian fast bowler" as he put it prior to this tour. While still early, Tuesday's display was encouraging for Fisher and his team-mates.

"It's nice to be back out on the grass and trying to win games," Fisher said. "I love the long-form game, it's fascinating to try and figure out ways to get batters out. We're using a lot of different tricks than you normally would in England. I have been going to the short ball a lot quicker, which is something they haven't seemed to play as well as they do the spin.

"It was just about the perfect day's cricket. We lost the toss and they chose to bat so whenever that happens it's usually a good wicket. It was a little bit tacky with the new ball, but we made good use of it and put them under pressure. We kept catchers in and kept the pressure on. We were constantly building pressure, with the spinners as well, and were able to take wickets at key intervals."

Fisher snared opener Nishan Madushka leg before, then Sadeera Samarawickrama and completed his five with the final three wickets, all caught behind by Surrey wicketkeeper Jamie Smith who was involved in six dismissals. Fisher's bouncer, in particular, was a potent weapon on an energy-sapping day.

"I have bowled better but there was not much in the wicket," Fisher said. "It seamed a little early on but what I was really pleased with was how direct my bouncers were in and around shoulder and head height. My accuracy with my bouncer was definitely the biggest thing to enable me to take wickets today.

"This is my first trip here and I am enjoying it. I've never played in heat like it here. It is 30 degrees which you'd get in other parts f the world but it's the humidity. Your whole top and bottoms are full of water, you just want to get off and have a shower but thankfully today we didn't have too long in it and we were back in the air-con changeroom."

Eng Lions 4th innings Partnerships

1st2AZ LeesH Hameed
2nd27H HameedTJ Haines
3rd11TB AbellH Hameed
4th27TB AbellJJ Bohannon
5th88JJ BohannonJA Haynes
6th3JL SmithJA Haynes
7th62LA Patterson-WhiteJL Smith
8th1MD FisherJL Smith