Lucky 13: Eng­land break away jinx with Ali bowl­ing a per­sonal best

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Sport - BY RORY DOL­LARD

Eng­land wrapped up their first over­seas Test vic­tory for more than two years, down­ing Sri Lanka at their Galle strong­hold by 211 runs with a day to spare yes­ter­day.

There have been 13 games since the last suc­cess on for­eign soil – tak­ing in trips to Bangladesh, Aus­tralia, In­dia and New Zealand – but Eng­land ban­ished their travel sick­ness in style, led by Moeen Ali’s best match fig­ures away from home.

He took four for 71 as the hosts were rolled for 250, and eight for 137 over­all, with fel­low spin­ner Jack Leach on hand to dis­miss three of the top six.

The fi­nal re­sult might have seemed al­most in­evitable at the start of play, with Sri Lanka pur­su­ing a world record chase of 462 or the equally un­likely prospect of bat­ting two full days for a draw, but the scale of the achieve­ment should not be un­der­played.

Galle is con­sid­ered a home banker in these parts, with Sri Lanka los­ing just four of their pre­vi­ous 18 Tests here in the past decade, and Eng­land win­less in their four prior vis­its to this pic­turesque 16th-cen­tury fort.

At 103 for five on the first morn­ing Joe Root’s side seemed to be head­ing for more dis­ap­point­ment, but fine cen­turies in ei­ther in­nings from debu­tant Ben Foakes and opener Keaton Jen­nings pro­vided the re­sis­tance and a three-strong spin at­tack flour­ished with 16 of the 20 re­quired wick­ets.

The open­ers be­gan the day well with a 51-run stand, ra­tioning Eng­land to a soli­tary chance in the first hour – Dimuth Karunaratne un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally dropped by Ben Stokes at slip to deny Moeen.

Then Kaushal Silva (30) gave it away, stoop­ing to sweep Leach and fall­ing lbw af­ter be­ing beaten in the air.

Hav­ing made the mis­take he com­pounded it, burn­ing a DRS re­view on his way.

Less than three overs later Karunaratne de­cided he would take the aerial route against Moeen, an ill-judged scheme that saw him club a firm re­turn catch back at the off­spin­ner.

Stokes en­tered the at­tack just in time to strike an­other blow be­fore lunch. One ball af­ter Dhanan­jaya de Silva suc­cess­fully over­turned a caught be­hind de­ci­sion, Stokes tightened up his line and took an in­dis­putable edge that nes­tled safely in the hands of Root.

Kusal Mendis and An­gelo Mathews cooled the charge in the af­ter­noon, put­ting on 45 as Leach searched for his rhythm at one end and Stokes bom­barded them with a snarling spell at the other.

The all-rounder de­served re­ward and would have had it when he hur­ried Mathews with a short ball on 17. The bats­man turned a pull straight to James An­der­son at mid­wicket, where a reg­u­la­tion catch popped out.

While he made the most of it, reach­ing his half-cen­tury, Mendis gave his wicket away on 45. One ball af­ter a loose lofted drive off Leach, he at­tempted an iden­ti­cal stroke and was caught by a back-pedalling Moeen.

Di­nesh Chandi­mal can at least claim to have been beaten au­then­ti­cally, Leach draw­ing him in on a mid­dle-and-leg line and find­ing suf­fi­cient turn to clip off stump.

What lit­tle hope there was in the home dress­ing room was ex­tin­guished in a hurry by Moeen.

He ac­counted for Niroshan Dick­wella with the first ball af­ter tea, Stokes mak­ing amends for his ear­lier drop with a sharp take, then added a soft shot from Mathews (53) to his col­lec­tion.

Moeen grabbed a fourth wicket of the day, Ak­ila Danan­jaya, to over­take his sev­en­wicket match haul in Dur­ban three years ago, and Adil Rashid did for Dil­ruwan Per­era.

Re­tir­ing hero Ran­gana Herath bowed out in dis­ap­point­ing fash­ion, run out sprawl­ing to make his ground, but was clapped on and off the field in a show of re­spect by his op­po­nents.

Among those cel­e­brat­ing in the mid­dle just four were present in Oc­to­ber 2016 at Eng­land’s last away win in Chit­tagong – Root, Stokes, Moeen and Rashid.

GETTY IMAGES

Moeen Ali is cel­e­brat­ing his best match fig­ures away from home for Eng­land

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