Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, 5th day, Kandy November 18, 2018

Jack Leach, Moeen Ali lead England to rare series win

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Five lessons from England's series win over Sri Lanka

England 290 (Curran 64, Buttler 63, Dilruwan 4-61) and 346 (Root 124, Foakes 65*, Burns 59, Dananjaya 6-115) beat Sri Lanka 336 (Roshen 85, Karunaratne 63, Leach 3-70, Rashid 3-75) and 243 (Mathews 88, Karunaratne 57, Leach 5-83, Moeen 4-72) by 57 runs

A five-wicket haul from Jack Leach has helped England secure a 57-run victory over Sri Lanka in Kandy to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. This is England's first series win in Asia since the 2012 victory over India and the first in Sri Lanka since 2001 besides being their first series win away from home since they defeated South Africa three years ago.

When play resumed on the fifth day, Sri Lanka were seven down and required 75 runs for a series-levelling victory. For the first 15 minutes or so, Sri Lanka progressed smoothly enough as England put their trust in left-arm spinner Jack Leach and offspinner Moeen Ali. Niroshan Dickwella, the senior batsman remaining, picked up singles with the sweep, while Akila Dananjaya survived one mis-hit over cover.

But then Moeen, giving the ball some air, lured the left-handed Dickwella into a push outside the off stump. With the delivery dipping and turning sharply off the pitch, Dickwella could only edge the ball to the safe hands of Ben Stokes at slip. Two deliveries later Moeen bowled Suranga Lakmal with a beauty that again drew a forward prod only to turn sharply between bat and pad. It left Sri Lanka's final pair requiring 61 runs.

Jack Leach wrapped up victory with his maiden five-wicket haul © Getty Images

That was always an unlikely ask and, barely half an hour after the start of play, Malinda Pushpakumara pushed a catch back to Leach. It was a tame end to a compelling match.

While Joe Root's century was probably the key ingredient in the victory, England spinners also enjoyed a fine game. England's trio of spinners claimed all 10 second-innings dismissals with Leach claiming a maiden five-wicket haul in his third Test. Moeen finished with 4 for 72. In all, England's spinners - including Joe Root - claimed 19 wickets, with the other falling to a run-out.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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