LIVE SCORECARD: England move step closer to first ever win in Galle as Jack Leach steals the show before tea
- England look set to claim win as opponents Sri Lanka still need 272 runs to win
- Left-arm spinner Jack Leach has taken three wickets in second innings
- England are likely to wrap up Test with a game to spare as Sri Lanka are 190-5
Jack Leach took England two huge steps closer to their first ever win in Galle in the middle session with contrasting wickets as Sri Lanka desperately tried to take this first Test into a final day.
The left-arm spinner, in only his second Test, was gifted his second wicket of the day when Kusal Mendis inexplicably tried to hit him over the top for a second successive four and could only find Moeen Ali at long-off.
If that was gifted to Leach then there was nothing fortunate about his third wicket of the innings when he produced an absolute beauty that pitched leg and took the top of Dinesh Chandimal’s off-stump.
Jack Leach (right) celebrates with team-mate Jos Buttler after dismissing Kusal Mendis
Leach is surrounded by his team-mates after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal
Leach appeals successfully for the wicket of Sri Lanka’s Kaushal Silva during day four
Leach dismissed Silva for 30 runs as England picked up the first of the wickets they need
Moeen Ali celebrates with Jos Buttler after taking the wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne
Moeen removed Karunaratne for 26, the second wicket to fall as England chased victory
Leach could barely believe it himself but it gave England a realistic chance of wrapping this first Test up, against all the odds, with a day to spare.
It was not all plain sailing for England and they may still regret giving Angelo Mathews a life when Jimmy Anderson dropped the easiest of chances at mid-wicket off the bowling of Ben Stokes when he was on 18.
The former Sri Lanka captain had been given a going over by Stokes in a fiery spell but all the all-rounder’s good work in setting the wicket up was undone by a lapse of concentration by England’s record wicket-taker.
Mathews remains on 50 at tea alongside Niroshan Dickwella but if England get through this sixth wicket pair then victory really should follow quickly.
They had earlier taken three wickets in the first session and saw another easy chance go down, this one by Stokes himself at slip, but it was not costly as Dimuth Karunaratne was soon dismissed by Moeen Ali off his own bowling.
Sri Lanka went into tea on 190 for five chasing a theoretical 462 with Joe Root using seven bowlers, including himself, in an attempt to work their way through the home forces.
It is remarkable that this Test has still to be affected by the rain that ruined the one-day series between these sides and has been seriously affecting Galle seemingly at all times other than when cricket is being played.
Twelve hours of torrential rain started pretty much as soon as the third day ended but had stopped in time for Friday’s fourth day to start on time which is a huge tribute to the work of the groundstaff here.
England’s Ben Stokes celebrates after taking the wicket of Dhananhaya de Silva before lunch
Leach dives full length to field the ball off his own bowling as England chase victory in Galle
Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis plays a shot on the fourth morning as the hosts try and save the game
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