Leach takes four as England close in on series victory

Leach takes four as England close in on series victory

England’s left-arm spinner Jack Leach led a strong spin bowling display that put the tourists within three wickets of a series-clinching victory against Sri Lanka on an intriguing fourth day of the second test on Saturday.

Chasing 301 to win on a turning Pallekele track, Sri Lanka reached 226 for seven when rain ended play for the second consecutive day with the hosts still needing 75 to square the three-test series at 1-1.

Combative half-centuries from former captain Angelo Mathews and opener Dimuth Karunaratne had set Sri Lanka up nicely in their chase after Leach’s brilliant spell of spin bowling with the new ball had reduced them to 26-3.

But off-spinner Moeen Ali and Leach, who has already taken a career-best 4-73 in an innings, brought England right back in the game by dismissing Mathews for 88 and Dilruwan Perera for two respectively in quick succession after the tea break.

Sri Lanka’s hopes on the final day will rest on wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella, who was unbeaten on 27 at the close of play.

Leach had given England the ideal start when he lured Kaushal Silva out of his crease with a flighted delivery to be stumped for four.

Dhananjaya de Silva was out to a smart catch by Keaton Jennings at short leg for one while Kusal Mendis was also trapped lbw for the same score, with England overturning the umpire’s not out decision on review.

Karunaratne made a dogged 57 and it was his fourth-wicket stand of 77 with the experienced Mathews that revived Sri Lanka’s chase.

Missed Chances

England wasted chances to dismiss Karunaratne and Mathews with all-rounder Ben Stokes the guilty fielder and off-spinner Moeen Ali the unfortunate bowler on both occasions.

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