In Pallekele on Saturday, England led by Joe Root won their first Test series in Asia after a gap of six years as they spun a web around the Sri Lankans to defeat them by 57 runs. In the process they took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series.
The team management trusted new faces to do the job, and they repaid that faith with some fantastic performances which prompted the coach Trevor Bayliss to speak highly about the new bold selection policy.
By wrapping up the series with a game to go, the English won their first away series since 2015 when they beat South Africa 2-1 in a four match series.
England, who have won a total of three Test series while visiting Sri Lanka, have been the most successful touring side to Asia since the turn of the century. They have recorded six series wins in this period. Only South Africa come closest in terms of number of series’ won in Asia with five, while Australia (4), West Indies (3) New Zealand (2) and Zimbabwe (1) complete the list.
After seeing off the Lankan challenge, Bayliss spoke at length about how everyone in the touring party had done their bit to ensure things worked out well; even a senior pro like Stuart Broad.
Both England and Sri Lanka were clear about the fact that they would have depend on the spinners during this series to ensure results went their way. In Pallekele, where the hosts needed to win to keep the contest alive, and England were keen on wrapping it up early, only two wickets weren’t accounted for by the spinners.
While Pallekele raised the bar for the most wickets taken by spinners in a Test match, it also saw the England fast bowlers hit a new low as they failed to pick any wicket in either innings.
This is not something the English are used to and it is only the third time that they have won a Test match without their quicks having any success at all.
The third Test between Sri Lanka and England begins on November 23rd in Colombo, and the visitors will undoubtedly look to sign off with another emphatic performance, while the hosts will hope to save face yet again.