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England’s spin trio leave Sri Lanka reeling as Foakes continues to impress

England 342 and 38-0; Sri Lanka 203
• Moeen takes four wickets after Foakes completes century

England’s cricketers have not enjoyed such a satisfying day in Asia since the 2012 tour of India. On the first day in Galle their batting was skittish at the start and doubts prevailed whether they had taken proper advantage of winning the toss, but now on the most sun-kissed afternoon of the tour they conjured a first innings lead of 139 by bowling Sri Lanka out for 203. This should allow them to control the game (despite England’s ascendancy only a greenhorn would opt for the future tense here). By the close their lead had been extended by another 38 runs.

Even better, eight of the 10 Sri Lankan wickets fell to the trio of English spin bowlers, who all responded eagerly to their puppeteer, Joe Root. Moeen Ali (four for 66), Adil Rashid (two for 30) and Jack Leach (two for 41) are not yet modern day versions of Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Prasanna, the Indian dream trio of the 70s, but here they performed well enough and everything fell into place against a Sri Lankan side, currently off the pace in their favourite back yard in Galle, where England have never won a Test match. Only Angelo Mathews could post a half-century as England whittled away with a purpose. The bowling was steady, the out-cricket truly outstanding. In the field they were sharp and flawless while Ben Foakes behind the stumps was as polished with the gloves as he had been with the bat.

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