England win series against Sri Lanka and set amazing all-time Test record in the process

ENGLAND needed just 31 minutes at the start of day five to wrap up a series-clinching win in the Second Test – and made history in the process.

Moeen Ali took two wickets and Jack Leach one as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 243 in their second innings – giving England victory by 57 runs.

 England won the series against Sri Lanka with spin bowlers taking all 38 wickets

Getty Images – Getty
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England won the series against Sri Lanka with spin bowlers taking all 38 wickets

Moeen had left-handed Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella – the principal remaining dangerman – caught at slip by Ben Stokes.

Two balls later, Moeen bowled stand-in skipper Suranga Lakmal with a beauty that turned and ripped through the No10 batsman’s defences.

And victory was complete when Leach caught and bowled Malinga Pushpakumara. It gave Somerset left-armer Leach his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

The balance of power had shifted after tea on a day when Angelo Mathews was lbw for a superb 88 and Dilruwan Perera was lbw to Leach three overs later.

 Moeen Ali took two wickets on day five to send England on their way

AFP
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Moeen Ali took two wickets on day five to send England on their way
 Moeen Ali has Niroshan Dickwella caught at slip by Ben Stokes

Getty Images – Getty
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Moeen Ali has Niroshan Dickwella caught at slip by Ben Stokes

Sri Lanka were looking comfortable in pursuit of their target of 301 but that double strike reduced them from 221-5 to 226-7. England were always favourites after that.

This is England’s first overseas series win since beating South Africa three winters ago. And they have won the first two Tests here after losing ten and drawing two of their preceding 13 Tests on the road.

They will enter the final Test in Colombo on Friday with an unbeatable 2-0 lead.

The series has been a triumph for Joe Root’s aggressive philosophy in which he has encouraged his batsmen to attack the spin bowlers rather than merely survive.

All his players have bought into Root’s game plan – but the attacking, risk-taking approach of new players such as Rory Burns, Ben Foakes and Sam Curran has been particularly pleasing.

England have won without two of their key players of recent years – Jonny Bairstow and Stuart Broad – appearing in a single match.

And James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, has been a largely fringe figure because the pitches have been so skewed in favour of the spinners.

In fact, England won this Test without a quick bowler taking a single wicket. The total of 38 wickets taken by spin bowlers is an all-time Test record.

 England captain Joe Root's aggressive batting philosophy paid off against Sri Lanka

AP:Associated Press
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England captain Joe Root's aggressive batting philosophy paid off against Sri Lanka
 This is England’s first overseas series win since beating South Africa three winters ago

Reuters
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This is England’s first overseas series win since beating South Africa three winters ago

Seamer Lakmal captured the game’s first wicket by dismissing Keaton Jennings early on day one and Stokes completed a stunning direct hit run out. Otherwise, it was the twirly man all the way.

There is no doubt Root’s standing has been enhanced in recent weeks.

Even though Sri Lanka are going through a transitional period following the retirement of several big names, they remain tough opposition at home.

They have beaten Australia and South Africa in recent years on surfaces specially rolled out to help their slow bowlers.

But, of course, Root knows that to achieve his ambition of becoming the No1 ranked Test team in the world, England have to start beating the likes of India and Australia on their travels.

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ENGLAND needed just 31 minutes at the start of day five to wrap up a series-clinching win in the Second Test – and made history in the process.