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England wins 3rd test, completes whitewash in Sri Lanka

November 26, 2018
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England's Jack Leach, left, celebrates taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Lakshan Sandakan during the fourth day of the third test cricket match between Sri Lanka and England in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — England claimed a hard-fought 42-run win over Sri Lanka in the third test with a day to spare Monday to complete a 3-0 whitewash.

Chasing a target of 327 at Sinhalese Sports Club, Sri Lanka was reduced to 226-9 but the last wicket pair of captain Suranga Lakmal (11) and Malinda Pushpakumara (42) shared a 58-run stand off 75 balls to delay the final result.

Despite tea being extended by 30 minutes, England failed to make the breakthrough as the last pair picked up runs. The victory eventually came in the first over after tea when Jack Leach trapped Lakmal leg before wicket.

“It was frustrating because you’re looking at 10 minutes before tea and you get them nine down. It’s a long two-hour session and it’s hot so you look forward to the 20-minute break when you can regroup, dust yourself down and go again,” England captain Joe Root said. “Sometimes that extra half hour can go against you and it felt like it did today but we very quickly dusted ourselves down and took the opportunity to calm things down again, simplify it and finish the job very professionally.”

Spinners Moeen Ali (4-92) and Leach (4-72) shared eight wickets between them to lead England to victory.

England had won the first test in Galle by 211 runs and the second in Pallekele by 57 runs to win their first series in Sri Lanka in 17 years.

England became only the third team to complete a 3-0 whitewash in Sri Lanka. Australia did it in 2004 and then India in 2017.

“The way we’ve played has been exceptional and a great motivator to keep doing what we are,” Root said. “To keep looking to get better and drive each other on.”

After a poor start at 54-4 on the third day, Sri Lanka fought back through a 102-run stand for the sixth wicket between Kusal Mendis (86) and Roshen Silva (65).

Leach produced a direct hit to run out Mendis after lunch to allow the tourists to take a firm grip on the game.

Silva worked a delivery from Adil Rashid on the leg-side and called for a second run but Mendis was slow to complete the first run and turned back reluctantly for the second. Leach, charging in from backward square leg, sensed the panic and threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end.

Mendis’ 86 came off 129 deliveries with eight fours and one six.

England then claimed four wickets in the afternoon session.

Silva was the ninth wicket to fall as England successfully reviewed a leg before after umpire Sundaram Ravi had turned down an appeal off the bowling of Ali.

England’s fielding has been top class throughout the series and the efforts of Keaton Jennings stood out at short leg. He completed six catches in the third test.

Pushpakumara was unbeaten on 42 off 40 deliveries with six fours and one six.

“The difference between the two teams was very little,” Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha said. “Kusal Mendis’ run out to a brilliant piece of fielding was the turning point of the game. Matter of quick decisions to say yes or no.”

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