England ended the longest winless streak in overseas Tests in their history with a crushing victory over Sri Lanka, reports ESPNCricinfo.
England’s win was not only their largest in terms of runs over Sri Lanka (though there have been innings victories) but their first in Galle.
Sri Lanka will surely rue an oddly ill-disciplined second innings that included several soft dismissals. While their openers survived the first hour of the day without undue alarm, the drinks break appeared to disturb that concentration. Kaushal Silva attempted to sweep a ball from Leach that pitched on middle stump and was adjudged leg before. To compound the error, Silva squandered a review in his attempt to have the decision overturned.
A few minutes later Dimuth Karunaratne, one of the few men in this side with the temperament to bat for several sessions, skipped down the pitch and drilled a return catch to Moeen. Karunaratne’s intention, no doubt, was to push back the mid-on and mid-off fielders and, perhaps, put Moeen off his length. But with Sri Lanka chasing a notional target of 464 – or, more realistically, batting as long as they could in the hope that rain came to their rescue – it appeared an oddly aggressive stroke.
Perhaps Moeen had earned the batsman’s lack of composure. He had almost dismissed Karunaratne with his second delivery of the day – a nicely flighted offbreak that demanded a stroke but then turned away to take the outside edge – only to see Stokes, at slip, put down a chance he would expect to take every time. Stokes was, perhaps, distracted by wicketkeeper Foakes making a move for the ball.
It was a nice piece of bowling to lure Mendis into the drive and spin the ball away from his stroke and a nice piece of captaincy to place the fielder in a position where the batsman felt he could clear him. But it really was an oddly obliging stroke for a man who should have been batting to save a Test.
The frustration for Sri Lanka was that England were, for much of the day, not at their best. Anderson’s dropping of Angelo Mathews, on 17, at midwicket was scant reward for a terrifically sustained spell of hostile short bowling from Stokes that defied the docility of the surface, while Stokes’ drop of Karunaratne was as simple as it was out of character.
While Mathews resisted to post his second half-century of the match – the first time he had done so since the Boxing Day Test in Christchurch in 2014 – when he was out, turning one that seemed to stop on him to midwicket, Sri Lanka’s last hopes departed with him.