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Moeen Ali and Jack Leach ripped through Sri Lanka on the morning of day five to break Sri Lankan hearts and give England a series victory, their first in Sri Lanka since 2001
Pallekele (fifth day of five): England 290 & 346, Sri Lanka 336 & 243 - England win by 57 runs
Moeen Ali and Jack Leach ripped through Sri Lanka on the morning of day five to break Sri Lankan hearts and give England a series victory, their first in Sri Lanka since 2001.
Any hopes of a Kandy classic were quickly dashed when Moeen produced a batsman-bewildering double-wicket maiden that turned sharply and ensured the match itself would not.
The danger man Dickwella was first to fall in the day, driving hard at Moeen and firing an edge to the safe hands of Ben Stokes at slip.
Two deliveries later the allrounder turned Suranga Lakmal inside out with a stunner that jagged back and pinged back off stump.
Moeen made the breakthrough for England on day five
Malinda Pushpakumara pushed a full ball from Leach directly back to the bowler via his toe to give the Somerset man a well-deserved (and perhaps long overdue) maiden Test match five-for.
For much of day four we were kept guessing as to which way this one was going go. Jack Leach’s quick triple had England firmly on top before Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews heeled spades into the ground as Sri Lanka dug in.
The wickets of Mathews and Perera, in the brief period of play after tea before the rain came, saw momentum swing back in England’s favour and the tide would not shift back on day five.
With the final three wickets going to the spinners, it meant that all 10 of Sri Lanka’s second-innings wickets had fallen to spin, and in total, 38 of 40 in the match - a Test record.
Following their first ever Test victory at Galle, it is back-to-back away wins for England, leaving their skipper and man of the match, Joe Root, a proud man.
Leach claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests
“We lost clusters of wickets but stayed calm and got control back in our favour. We came through some close games in the summer against India. I couldn't be more proud,” said the captain.
"We wanted to play some bold, courageous cricket, and we've worked extremely hard.
"We've got to keep looking to improve, we are not the finished article, we want to get to No.1 in the world, keep that drive, and harness that.
"You've seen teams in the past ease off , but we want to back it up."
The series heads towards its conclusion at Colombo on Friday with England holding an unassailable 2-0 lead.