Dom Sibley scored an unbeaten half century as England chased down a target of 164 to secure a sweep of the series on Monday, beating Sri Lanka by six wickets in the second test on a day of drama at Galle International Stadium.
England scored 164-4, with Sibley 56 not out and Jos Buttler unbeaten on 46 as they overcame jittery moments to complete a 2-0 series triumph.
The tourists overturned a 37-run deficit after the first innings to win a sixth successive test in Sri Lanka. England earlier dismissed Sri Lanka for 126 in their second innings, giving themselves a confidence boost ahead of next months start of a four-test series in India.
Englands run chase began nervously as they lost their first four wickets for 89 runs, including a tired-looking Joe Root, with Sri Lankas dangerous spinner Lasith Embuldeniya threatening with the new ball and taking three wickets for a match tally of 10.
But an unbeaten 75-run partnership between Sibley, who had previous failed with the bat on tour, and Buttler carried England home as they showed the application their hosts lacked in their batting.
“I was pleased to be able to spend time at the crease and get the boys over the line,” said Sibley.
England, who added only five runs to their overnight tally before being dismissed for 344, took just over a session to turn the match on its head as Dom Bess and spin partner Jack Leach claimed four wickets each in Sri Lankas second innings.
Bess took 4-49 and Leach 4-59 as the home batting line-up was undone by the turn of the wicket and rash shots. It included a wild sweep from veteran Angelo Mathews as he was bowled by Bess for five, and a slog that was top-edged by captain Dinesh Chandimal (9) and expertly caught by James Anderson off Leach.
“There are no excuses from us, we made mistakes and we were outplayed,” Chandimal said.
Embuldeniya, with a quickfire 40 off 42 balls, was the only home batsmen to make more than 20 and his 48-run ninth wicket partnership with Suranga Lakmal helped set England a tougher target.
But he was eventually dismissed off the part-time bowling of Root, who claimed another wicket with his next ball by bowling Asitha Ferando to wrap up the innings. Root finished with figures of 2-0 off 11 balls.
“It was great to come out on top after losing the toss on a wicket that had us under pressure for much of the match,” said the England captain.
England won last week's first test by seven wickets in a victorious start to a year in which they will play 17 test matches.
Picture: Dom Sibley (L) and Jos Buttler celebrate after England beat Sri Lanka