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Root Proud, Bayliss Cautious After England Complete Whitewash in Sri Lanka

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: November 27, 2018, 12:20 PM IST
Root Proud, Bayliss Cautious After England Complete Whitewash in Sri Lanka

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Joe Root was lavish in praise of a 'complete team effort' after England whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0 with a 42-run victory in the third and final Test at the SSC in Colombo.

"Proud of everyone, brilliant performance from the whole squad," the England captain said at the post-match presentation ceremony. "I'm not surprised (by the results), we knew we were capable of winning here but the consistency shows a real learning within the squad."

Root said the secret to England's win was the depth in their squad, which allowed them to pick 20 wickets every time. Jack Leach, Moeen Ali and Adl Rashid bagged 38 wickets among them, outbowling the Sri Lankan spin unit.

"There's a lot of ability within the squad and we can keep improving," said Root. "We've been able to bring different guys in, and one of the big secrets of our success has been being able to pick a team that can take 20 wickets and post scores that could put pressure on the opponents. You are only as good as your team. You can't look past that. The experienced players have taken the extra responsibility and the guys have stepped up. It's been exceptional. It's been a complete team effort, it's been a great tour. I'm proud of my team. Everything about this trip has been magnificent."

England had multiple performers in the batting unit too, with wicketkeeper-batsmen Ben Foakes named Man of the Series for his series-topping 257 runs from three games.

Keaton Jennings, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow too scored centuries through the series while the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Sam Curran performed at crucial times.

"It was amazing, it's been a crazy few weeks," said Foakes. "The Sri Lankan guys played really well, especially in this game. Felt very hard (keeping wickets), I have been here six times so knowing the conditions and that experience helped. So much has happened in the last few weeks. I'll see what happens, will just go with the flow and I'm here for the ride."

Foakes' century in the first Test meant there was no place for Bairstow in the next. He, however, got his place in the XI thanks to an injury to Curran. Batting at No. 3 in his comeback game, Bairstow scored 110 to set up the victory.

"It's been really good for me, not often you come into the side and win the series," said Bairstow. "It's been a good tour. It's been up and down for me personally.

Getting injured and coming back into the team, great to be back with the lads in the middle. There's plenty of cricket to be played, we look forward to the West Indies now."

Coach Trevor Bayliss said the competition between Bairstow and Foakes will be good for the team in the future.

"We don't want to put any undue pressure on other people. But it does keep the guys in the team on their toes and, in the long run for England, that's a good thing when you've got competition for places and depth to select from," he told Sky Sports. "Even Jos Buttler wants to keep, but the way Foakesy has gone in this series, he'll definitely be in for the next one.

"Since I've been here, every time there's been a challenge thrown to Jonny, he's been able to come out and score some runs. The trick for us is to try to come up with a challenge for him every time he comes out to bat. He's got the goods, and the challenge for him will be at home on seaming wickets, but he's got the talent to master that as well."

Bayliss added that the reason for England's success was their positive approach against the Sri Lankan spin unit.

"In the past, teams have come here and decided to bunker down, wait for the bad ball and bat for a long time," Bayliss said. "But quite simply, with the spin over here, eventually there's going to be a ball with your name on it, so we decided to take the attack to them. Don't let them dictate to us, we wanted to dictate to them. We thought it was the way to go, and certainly panned out that way in the first two games."

"We said after that first day in Galle that first session we were a bit frenetic. There's a fine line between being busy and looking to score, being mentally positive, and going over the top and trying to hit good balls for runs. You still have to defend well and hit the bad ball for four. With that mental approach, if you are in the right frame of mind, your feet move well and you make good decisions."

However, Bayliss was cautious while assessing England's opening combination. Jennings impressed with a ton in the first match but Rory Burns managed only 155 runs from six innings.

"I probably don't think so," Bayliss said when asked if Jennings and Burns sealed their spots for the long run. "Obviously statistics will tell a story there, they are still both fairly young in the Test game, and have shown some good character in the way they've gone about it. It's been exceptional at times, but in the end, for every one of the 11, runs and wickets count."

On the other hand, Sri Lanka's captain Suranga Lakmal rued the small mistakes that led to another narrow defeat.

"I expected a close game," he said speaking in Sinhalese. "There were a few small mistakes that cost us big. We have to rectify those small things in the future but everybody did their best."

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan head coach Chandika Hathurusingha said England handled the pressure situations better than the home team.

"I thought it was a very closely fought series, especially the last two games. 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 when things were going our way. He was brilliant with the ball and on the field. He took the game away from us in both games. When we were 173 for one again England took the initiative away from us. Our fielding is another reason for us to come second best in this series," he said.

Sri Lankan batsmen managed 11 fifty-plus scores in three Tests - same as England, who converted four of them into centuries.

"I thought in these last two games, given our inexperienced attack due to the absence of Rangana (Herath), I thought we competed well. The big difference is three (four) hundreds 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. But all in all, England played better.

"This is what we have got. Maturity comes with the continuous opportunities we give players. I am hoping that they learn quickly. On these kinds of surfaces it is tough for batsmen. Everyone who got a start got a decent score. Batting second and fourth is tough. Batting moving forward in conditions we will get, I am sure we will show more skill. This is the best batting unit we have."
First Published: November 26, 2018, 5:12 PM IST
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