England crushed Sri Lanka by 211 runs with a day to spare in winning a test in Galle for the first time on Friday.
Set an improbable target of 461 and two days to do the unprecedented, Sri Lanka was all out for 250 after tea on the fourth day, Rangana Herath conceding the match in his farewell test trying to get a second run but diving a whisker short.
This earned England it’s biggest win against Sri Lanka in terms of runs, eclipsing a 137-run win at Lord’s in 1991.
This was also England’s first win overseas in more than two years. It had gone 13 tests away from home without a win, losing 10.
England posed the question of whether Sri Lanka’s batsmen possessed the resolve to take the game to the final day, and they fell short badly as spinners Moeen Ali and Jack Leach, playing his third test, shared seven wickets.
Ali finished with 4-71 and a match bag of 8-137.
Former captain Angelo Mathews scored the only half-century in the Sri Lanka innings as several top order batsmen fell for loose shots. Mathews was dismissed after tea for 53, caught by Jos Buttler at short mid-wicket off Ali. Mathews scored a half-century in the first innings, too.
There was a glimmer of hope for Sri Lanka as openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva batted well without any major hiccups in the first hour of the morning. But soon after the morning drinks break, Leach broke though when he had Silva out leg before wicket for 30.
Karunaratne offered a return catch to Ali on 26.
Dhananjaya de Silva was dismissed in the last over before lunch for 21 as Ben Stokes found the outside edge of the bat and the catch was snapped up by Joe Root at first slip.
Sri Lanka lost Kusal Mendis (45) and captain Dinesh Chandimal (1) in the afternoon session and that left England requiring five wickets in the last session to go 1-0 up in the three-test series. Chandimal, who was nursing a groin strain, could miss the second test at Pallekele next week.
There was not much resistance from Sri Lanka after tea.
Herath walked in to a standing ovation, and another when he was last man out for 5. He retired as the most successful left-arm bowler ever, having taken 433 test wickets to sit in a tie for eighth on the all-time list.
England’s players did a lap of honor to the appreciation of more than 6,000 fans at the game.
Ben Foakes, who made a hundred on debut in the first innings, was named man of the match.
England won the ODI series 3-0 and the one-off Twenty20.