Sri Lanka continued their miserable run in the series against England as they suffered a dramatic collapse in the third Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club on Saturday. England had reached 336 thanks to an aggressive century from Jonny Bairstow and an attacking 57 from Ben Stokes and in response, Sri Lanka were in a good position at 187/2, with Dimuth Karunaratne batting well on 83. However, Adil Rashid changed the course of the match with a brilliant spell and the England legspinner ripped through the middle order to finish with his career-best figures of 5/49. Sri Lanka lost eight wickets for 53 runs and they were bowled out for 240, giving England a lead of 96 runs which they extended to 99 by the close of the day.
The Sri Lanka tour has been a remarkable success for England, winning the five-match ODI series 3-1 and the one-off Twenty20 International before winning the Test series for the first time in 17 years. England has become the first team to achieve a series win in all three formats in the sub-continent. If they win the Test match in Colombo, they will achieve a 3-0 whitewash in the sub-continent.
This will be a very rare feat for England. In India, they have never won more than two Tests in a five-match, six match or three-match series. They have whitewashed Bangladesh but this will be the first time they will achieve a 3-0 scoreline in the sub-continent. The only other team to whitewash a side 3-0 in the sub-continent is Australia, who achieved this against Sri Lanka in 2004.
England has struggled in the sub-continent for the last 15 years, winning one series and that was surprisingly against India in the 2012 season. Joe Root’s side have the chance to rewrite the history books and a win in Colombo could be the starting point for greater things from a side who are looking to rebuild following the retirement of their star opener Alastair Cook.