Ben Stokes pummelled 187 runs at an average of 31.16 in the series. @ Getty Images
Ben Stokes pummelled 187 runs at an average of 31.16 in the series. @ Getty Images

Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha pointed out that England allrounder Ben Stokes was the difference between the two sides that saw the visitors walk away with a historic 3-0 Test series sweep on Monday.

Stokes pummelled 187 runs at an average of 31.16 in the series. Other than his contribution with the bat, it was his effort in the field and with the ball – special mention of the run out he effected, that got Sri Lanka’s best batsman Dimuth Karunaratne in the second Test that – that saw Stokes come under high praise from Hathurusingha.

“I thought it was a very closely fought series especially the last two games,” Hathurusingha was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo on Monday.

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“The difference between the two teams was very little. I thought England handled tough situations well. Ben Stokes was the difference in the last two games, I thought.

“Other than the first Test, I thought we fought hard in the second and third games. A few issues we have to sort out, no doubt. While batting, we took some wrong options and that is the reason why we lost. Had certain things gone our way, the result could have been different.”

Stokes also bowled a 10-over aggressive spell in the final Test at Colombo on day two as Sri Lanka lost nine wickets for 67 runs.

“When things were going our way, Stokes was brilliant with the ball and on the field,” Hathurusingha said.

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“He took the game away from us in both games. When we were 173 for one in the first innings here, again England took the initiative away from us.”

Sri Lanka’s only positive in what was a dismal series, was the spin attack. Recently-retired Rangana Herath’s like-for-like replacement Malinda Pushpakumara claimed nine wickets in the series. At Pallekele, offspinner Akila Dananjaya, awaiting results after his action came under the scanner, took 6 for 115 in the second innings, while at the SSC, left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan claimed 5 for 95 in the first innings.

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“I thought in these last two games, given our inexperienced attack due to the absence of Rangana we competed well,” Hathurusingha said. “The big difference is four hundred they scored and no hundreds from us. The toss has got lot to do as well when you are playing on these types of wickets. Of course, we should have used the DRS better on hindsight. But all in all, England played better.”