Jack Leach’s first five-wicket haul clinched an overwhelming win for England in the second Test against Sri Lanka on Sunday that sealed the series with a match to go.
England needed just 30 minutes on the fifth day to take the final three wickets with Leach fittingly getting last man Malinda Pushpakmura caught-and-bowled to set off celebrations.
It was England’s first away series win since beating South Africa in 2015-’16 and their first series win in Sri Lanka since 2001.
Sri Lanka needed 301 in their second innings to register an upset win but managed just 243 at the Pallekele ground.
England’s 57-run win followed their convincing victory in the first Test in Galle and was set up by spinners Leach, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid – who took 19 of the 20 Sri Lankan wickets – as well as captain Joe Root’s second-innings 124.
Root was thrilled by the win and has set his sights on England becoming the number one Test team.
“We came out saying we wanted to play some bold cricket, courageous cricket, and we’ve worked extremely hard,” said Root, who added that England had “backed up” their talk with the performances.
“We’ve got to keep looking to improve, we are not the finished article, we want to get to number one in the world.”
Root said England had to prove they could play on all surfaces and in all countries, “keep that drive, and harness that.”
The third Test starts in Colombo on Friday.