England needed just 30 minutes on the fifth and last day to take the final three Sri Lanka wickets
Captain Joe Root set his sights on taking England to the top of the world ranking after his spin trio finished off Sri Lanka in the second and penultimate Test match Sunday to seal the series with a match to spare.
England needed just 30 minutes on the fifth and last day to take the final three Sri Lanka wickets. Jack Leach got last man Malinda Pushpakumara caught and bowled to claim his first five-wicket Test haul.
Moeen Ali took four wickets and Adil Rashid one as England's three frontline spinners accounted for the whole innings, as well as 18 of Sri Lanka's 20 wickets in the game overall.
Root's 124 in England's second innings also played a key role in the 57-run victory and earned him the man-of-the-match award.
🏏 First away series win since 2016.— Test Match Special (@bbctms) November 18, 2018
🏏 First away series win under Joe Root.
🏏 First series win in Sri Lanka since 2001.
It was tight but England have sealed a famous win.
Report: https://t.co/FfObMTGnbD pic.twitter.com/fqo1Abv0WT
Celebrating England's first away series win since beating South Africa in 2015-16 and his first away triumph as captain, Root sees England - who are currently ranked third in the world - challenging India for the top Test team spot.
Sri Lanka needed 301 in their second innings to register an upset win but managed just 243 at the Pallekele ground.
They started the day needing 75 more runs and with three wickets in hand had an outside chance.
After Niroshan Dickwella was caught by Ben Stokes off Moeen for 35 - the first wicket of the morning - Sri Lanka's hope was all but extinguished.
Moeen then struck No 10 batsman Suranga Lakmal, the Sri Lanka skipper, on the pad next ball for a strong lbw appeal which was turned down. He bowled Lakmal his very next delivery.
Pushpakumara lasted only eight balls before chipping the ball back to Leach and the game was over.
Lakmal insisted his side had been "unlucky". But England's triumph followed a crushing 211-run win in the first Test in Galle, and was set up by masterful performances from Leach, Moeen and Rashid.
The spinners were dominant for both sides, as Sri Lanka's Dilruwan Perera took seven wickets in the game and Akila Dananjaya - who now goes off for an investigation into his bowling action - eight.
Leach, playing just his third Test, said the game had been "unbelievable".
Root insisted that England will not ease up for the third and final Test which starts in Colombo Friday.
He faces some tough selection choices after stand-in wicketkeeper Ben Foakes again shone with the bat - hitting a crucial unbeaten 65 in the second innings - just as Jonny Bairstow steps up claims for a recall after injury.
Sri Lanka will be looking to strengthen their rebuilding, said coach Chandika Hathurusingha.
ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS R B
Burns c de Silva b Dananjaya 43 81
Jennings c Dickwella b Lakmal 1 8
Stokes lbw b Perera 19 27
Root b Pushpakumara 14 23
Buttler c Karunaratne b Pushpakumara 63 67
Moeen lbw b Pushpakumara 10 23
Foakes c De Silva b Perera 19 29
Curran c Karunaratne b Perera 64 119
Rashid lbw b Perera 31 52
Leach b Dananjaya 7 13
Anderson not out 7 12
Extras (b 4, lb 3) 7
Total (75.4 Overs) 290 all out
Fall Of Wickets
1-12 (Jennings), 2-49 (Stokes), 3-70 (Root), 4-94 (Burns), 5-139 (Moeen), 6-170 (Foakes), 7-176 (Buttler), 8-221 (Rashid), 9-230 (Leach), 10-290 (Curran)
Lakmal 12-1-44-1, Perera 24.4-5-61-4, Pushpakumara 23-4-89-3, De Silva 2-0-4-0, Dananjaya 14-1-80-2
SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS R B
Karunaratne run out (Stokes) 63 125
Silva b Leach 6 15
Pushpakumara c Burns b Moeen 4 22
De Silva c Foakes b Rashid 59 98
Mendis c Stokes b Leach 1 3
Mathews c Foakes b Rashid 20 42
Silva c Moeen b Rashid 85 174
Dickwella lbw b Root 25 33
Perera lbw b Leach 15 37
Dananjaya lbw b Ali 31 39
Lakmal not out 15 30
Extras (b 6, lb 6) 12
Total (103 Overs) 336 all out
Fall Of Wickets
1-22 (Silva), 2-31 (Pushpakumara), 3-127 (Karunaratne), 4-136 (Mendis), 5-146 (De Silva), 6-165 (Mathews), 7-211 (Dickwella), 8-252 (Perera), 9-308 (Dananjaya), 10-336 (Silva)
Anderson 14-2-40-0, Curran 4-0-19-0, Leach 29-5-70-3, Moeen 25-1-85-2, Rashid 22-2-75-3, Root 8-0-26-1, Stokes 1-0-9-0
ENGLAND 2ND INNINGS R B
Leach lbw b Perera 1 11
Burns lbw b Pushpakumara 59 66
Jennings c de Silva b Dananjaya 26 54
Root lbw b Dananjaya 124 146
Stokes lbw b Perera 0 2
Buttler b Dananjaya 34 45
Moeen lbw b Dananjaya 10 14
Foakes not out 65 119
Curran b Dananjaya 0 1
Rashid lbw b Dananjaya 2 13
Anderson b Perera 12 13
Extras (b 4, lb 9) 13
Total (80.4 Overs) 346 all out
Fall Of Wickets
1-4 (Leach), 2-77 (Jennings), 3-108 (Burns), 4-109 (Stokes), 5-183 (Buttler), 6-219 (Moeen), 7-301 (Root), 8-301 (Curran), 9-305 (Rashid), 10-346 (Anderson)
Perera 20.4-2-96-3, Pushpakumara 27-1-101-1, Dananjaya 25-0-115-6, De Silva 4-0-7-0, Lakmal 4-0-14-0
SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS R B
Karunaratne c Foakes b Rashid57 96
Silva st Foakes b Leach 4 6
De Silva c Jennings b Leach 1 10
Mendis lbw b Leach 1 7
Mathews lbw b Moeen 88 137
Silva c Root b Moeen 37 95
Dickwella c Stokes b Moeen 35 43
Perera lbw b Leach 2 11
Dananjaya not out 8 28
Lakmal b Moeen 0 2
Pushpakumara c & b Leach 1 9
Extras (b 5, lb 4) 9
Total (74 Overs) 243 all out
Fall Of Wickets
1-14 (Silva), 2-16 (De Silva), 3-26 (Mendis), 4-103 (Karunaratne), 5-176 (Silva), 6-221 (Mathews), 7-226 (Perera), 8-240 (Dickwella), 9-240 (Lakmal), 10-243 (Pushpakumara)
Anderson 5-2-12-0, Leach 28-2-83-5, Moeen 19-2-72-4, Rashid 17-1-52-1, Root 5-0-15-0
England won by 57 runs
MoM: Joe Root