In an age where away Test wins – especially in particularly alien conditions – are few and far between, a visiting side completing a whitewash is an astounding achievement. But such is Sri Lanka’s continued slide, and England’s rise back towards the top in the longest format, that this was far from unthinkable.
England completed a 3-0 sweep of their three-match Test series in Sri Lanka after a hard-fought 42-run win on Day 4 of the third Test in Colombo on Monday, 26 November.
Joe Root’s side were made to labour in a somewhat nervy finish down to Lankan No. 11 Malinda Pushpakumara, but inspired by the rich vein of form displayed by their spinners, England were able to become only the third to whitewash Sri Lanka in their own den.
Chasing a target of 327 at the Sinhalese Sports Club, Sri Lanka were reduced to 226/9 but the last wicket pair of captain Suranga Lakmal (11) and Malinda Pushpakumara (42) shared a 58-run stand off 75 balls to delay the final result.
Despite tea being extended by 30 minutes, England failed to make the breakthrough as the last pair picked up runs. The victory eventually came in the first over after tea when Jack Leach trapped Lakmal leg before wicket.
Spinners Moeen Ali (4-92) and Leach (4-72) shared eight wickets between them to lead England to victory, to put the closing lid on a sterling tour where the duo shared 36 wickets between them.
England had won the first test in Galle by 211 runs and the second in Pallekele by 57 runs to win their first series in Sri Lanka in 17 years.
After a poor start at 54-4 on the third day, Sri Lanka fought back through a 102-run stand for the sixth wicket between Kusal Mendis (86) and Roshen Silva (65).
Leach produced a direct hit to run out Mendis after lunch to allow the tourists to take a firm grip on the game. Mendis' 86 came off 129 deliveries with eight fours and one six.
England then claimed four wickets in the afternoon session.
Silva was the ninth wicket to fall as England successfully reviewed a leg before after umpire Sundaram Ravi had turned down an appeal off the bowling of Ali.
Pushpakumara was unbeaten on 42 off 40 deliveries with six fours and one six.
(With inputs from AP)
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