Sri Lanka vs England: Moeen Ali equals English wickets record in epic 3-0 sweep
Moeen Ali claimed 18 wickets at 24.50 apiece as England won 3-0. @AFP

Moeen Ali has equaled the existing record for most wickets by an England  bowler in a Test series in Sri Lanka, taking his 18th of the series on Monday as Joe Root’s team completed a rare 3-0 sweep at the SSC.

Moeen claimed 4/92 in Sri Lanka’s second innings of 284 as England won by 42 runs, and when he dismissed Dilruwan Perera for 5 it took him level on Ashley Giles’ mark of 18 wickets during the tour in 2003-4 when Sri Lanka won 1-0.

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Giles had taken 8/201 in a draw at Galle followed by 8/217 in another draw at Kandy and then 2/190 at the SSC as England were beaten by an innings and 215 runs to lose the series. His 18 wickets came at 29.94 apiece while striking every 65.98 deliveries.

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Moeen began this series with 8/137 in England’s win at Galle, added 6/147 as the series was sealed at Pallekele and then finished with 4/147 in Colombo. This gave him 18 wickets at an average of 24.50 and strike-rate of 41.3.

His batting, however, was nowhere near as productive: 78 runs in six innings for an average of 13 with a highest score of 33. Moeen was batted at No 3 in Galle but after scores of 0 and 3 he slotted back down the order with innings of 10, 10, 33 and 22.