Playing in Sri Lanka Earlier Helped Tackling S…

England’s debutant man-of-the-match Ben Foakes described it as a surreal moment in his career and added that his earlier tours to Sri Lanka helped him read the conditions better.

“It’s been a surreal few days for me and it feels like a dream. I feel it has been one of the best few weeks of my career so far. I was a bit nervous initially, but to be able to contribute was amazing. I really enjoyed my wicket-keeping. I have been here a few times before and that helped in countering the spinners. It was incredible to face their quality spinners,” said Foakes.

England captain Joe Root said the homework that his side had done before the start of their tour to Sri Lanka paid off, as the visitors registered a 211-run victory in the first Test in Galle.

“We’ve done our homework and made sure we came here knowing how we were going to try and approach things,” said Root. “It’s been a fantastic start of things and we’ve got to build on it and make sure we don’t just rest on our laurels now. We will work very hard now before that second Test match and hopefully back up a really good performance.”

Set a mammoth 462 to win, sustained pressure from Ali, fellow spinner Jack Leach and aggressive seam bowling from Ben Stokes bundled out the hosts for 250 on day four.

“We played some really good stuff,” Root continued. “We can go to Kandy with huge amounts of confidence and look to still improve and get better. I am glad he (Herath) is not there for the next match, having gotten out twice to him (smiles). But yeah, he’s had a fantastic career and it’s great to see so many people celebrate his career.”

Herath had announced his retirement from all formats of the game before the match. The spinner spoke about the “emotion” of the occasion, and the desire to start another life now.

“It’s of course an emotional occasion, but I need to start another life. I might go to my club and may play some first-class cricket,” Herath said. “From 2011 the support from my wife, kids and my immediate family members has been amazing, I really appreciate the support and without that I don’t think I could have got to where I am right now.“

Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal said that England was “outstanding” in their effort, and called his team’s batting “below par” in the match. “Our batting was below-par during the game, you can’t stay in the game (with this kind of batting).

“Credit goes to England, they played some outstanding cricket. We had a really good start in the first session but we couldn’t capitalise on it.”

Chandika Hathurusingha, Sri Lanka’s coach, said his side were playing catch-up since lunch on day one when England turned the match around having been five down for 103.

“After that, the way they batted, they took the game away from us. From there on we were chasing the game,” he said.

“In Test cricket, especially on wickets like these, it is very difficult to come back.”

The 211-run victory, England’s first Test win away from home in 13 matches, leaves Joe Root’s men 1-0 up in the three-match series, with the second Test starting in Kandy on Wednesday.