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A maiden “five for” in Test cricket from Jack Leach gave England victory in the second Test at Pallakele today, securing a first Test series win in Asia since beating India back in 2012.
Leach took 5-83 to finish with eight wickets in the match, ably assisted by six wickets from Mooen Ali . The pair already have 27 scalps between them across the series, with one match still to play.
This was an absolutely gripping Test match featuring a range of impressive performances on both sides.
One thinks of Sam Curran's six sixes and Joe Root's ton for England, Roshen Silva's spirited 85 and Akila Dananjaya’s 6-115 to name but a few, in what was a brilliantly unpredictable Test match.
Sri Lanka had started the final day 226-7, still needing another 75 runs, and began with a period of quiet accumulation between Niroshan Dickwella and Akila Dananjaya.
The home side had whittled it down to 61 more to level the series when Mooen Ali struck twice in three balls, extracting significant turn for both dismissals.
Ali had the dangerous Dickwella caught by Stokes at slip for 35, then stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal bowled through the gate for a second-ball duck.
Victory was confirmed not long afterwards, as Leach secured his Michelle with a simple caught and bowled, dismissing Malinda Pushpakumara for just one, and sparking jubilant celebrations.
Sri Lanka had England rightly worried when reaching 219-5 at tea on day four, but lost their last five wickets for the addition of just 22 runs, as can so commonly happen in the fourth innings of a Test match where batting is at its toughest.
This is only England's second away Test series win in Asia since 2001, discounting two wins in Bangladesh, who back then were establishing themselves in Test cricket.
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