England captain Joe Root believes England will go into the second Test against Sri Lanka at Kandy on Wednesday with “huge amounts of confidence” after overcoming the hosts in Galle.
“We played some really good stuff,” Root said after the commanding 211-run victory. “The way we played throughout the four days, with everyone contributing and playing a part, is really pleasing.”
“We said we were going to do things slightly differently at the start of the series and we’ve really backed that up and given ourselves a really good chance to go to Kandy with a lot of confidence and back up what’s been a brilliant four-days here,” he said.
England got off to a shaky start in Galle, losing five wickets for just 103 runs, with debut opener Rory Burns back in the pavilion for nine, Moeen Ali out first ball and Ben Stokes gone for seven.
But from lunch onwards, England were in the driving seat, not least due to debutant Ben Foakes’s 107 — making him man of the match — and with valuable contributions from Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid.
Sri Lanka were then bundled out for 203, with Ali getting four wickets for 66 and fellow spinners Jack Leach and Rashid taking two apiece, giving the hosts a 139-run first-innings lead.
Keaton Jennings then made an overdue return to form in England’s second innings with an assured 146 not out, allowing Root to declare set Sri Lanka an enormous target of 462.
They were all out for 250 and Ali took four wickets for the second time in the match, ably assisted by Leach who took three and by Stokes with aggressive, chin-high seam bowling.
“We had some clear plans about the way we were going to approach this game in particular on this surface. To see them work, to see the hard work leading into the game pay off, is great,” Root said.
“The way we played in the summer (beating a visiting Indian side 4-1) was a sign of this team moving forward and we’ve really backed that up in this performance,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to win Test matches abroad now. I think that makes it even sweeter when you do come to a very difficult venue, like Galle, and manage to win games. Hopefully we can build on this and it’s not just a one-off for us.”