1st Test, Galle: England beat Sri Lanka by 211 runs, lead series 1-0
Moeen Ali went past 150 Test wickets as England spun to victory in Galle. @Getty

England have won their first away Test in over two years, beating Sri Lanka by 211 runs runs on day four of the Galle Test to go up 1-0 in the three-match series.

The left-arm spin of Jack Leach accounted for three wickets – including the huge scalps of Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal during the afternoon session – while once again it was Moeen Ali who underlined his importance to this England team with four. Two wickets in 10 balls after tea to Moeen removed the last of Sri Lanka’s recognised batsmen in Niroshan Dickwella and Angelo Mathews, the latter for the highest score of the innings – 53 – and it was all over when Rangana Herath was run out in his final international innings.

Never before had an English cricket team won a Test in Galle. Never before had an English cricket team won the opening match of a Test series in Sri Lanka. Joe Root will have serious aspirations of becoming the first England captain to win a series in the country since 2000.

Sri Lanka began the day on 15/0 – 447 runs away from their victory target – and did well to progress to 51 before Leach delivered England their first wicket of the day in the 23rd over, pinning Kaushal Silva lbw on the sweep for 30. England had an opening, and with the ball turning it was not not long after that Moeen got into the act, courtesy a rush of blood to the head for Dimuth Karunaratne (26) who charged out and struck a catch that Moeen did well to clutch onto for his 150th Test wicket. Sri Lanka had thus lost their openers in the span of 17 deliveries.

Dhananjaya de Silva applied himself well during his 21 off 44 balls, hitting Moeen for six, but in the over lunch pushed loosely at Ben Stokes and was taken by first slip by Joe Root.

From 98/3 at lunch, Sri Lanka lost two wickets in the afternoon to Leach. The scalp of Mendis came with help from the batsman who recklessly charged out and threw away his wicket. The wicket of Chandimal owed to purely lovely bowling, with teasing drift luring the Sri Lankan captain to play down the wrong line. Mathews raised his fifty with a heaved four off Adil Rashid just before tea to keep England searching for a breakthrough into the bowling.

First ball after tea, Stokes held a very fine catch at slip when Niroshan Dickwella stabbed at Moeen. In the offspinner’s next over, Mathews chipped to short midwicket to signal the end of Sri Lanka’s resistance. Rashid dismissed Dilruwan Perera (30) and Ben Foakes, who scored a century on debut, was the man who ran out Herath for 5 to end the match.

Defeat has sent Herath into retirement with a loss, just the 13th time in 93 Tests that the 40-year-old has experienced that at home.

England 342 & 322/6 decl beat Sri Lanka 203 & 250 (Mathews 53, Moeen 4/71) by 211 runs