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Sri Lanka v England: Joe Root encourages his side to keep improving after 2-0 series win

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Dom Sibley and Jos Buttler
Dom Sibley (left) and Jos Buttler (right) shared a stand of 75 to guide England home by six wickets in Galle

It is important England “do not stand still” after their 2-0 series victory in Sri Lanka, says captain Joe Root.

England are now unbeaten in 10 matches under his captaincy and have won five consecutive Tests overseas for the first time since World War One.

“We’ve still got improvement in all areas,” said man of the series Root.

“We’ve not had the complete performance in either game.

“We are very clear about how we want to play our cricket and we want to strive to reach that and be more consistent. We’re starting to see that progression and it working time and time again.

“There will be different situations to come and it’s about having that desire to improve all the time.”

The series victory in Galle means England have now won six successive Tests in Sri Lanka,

England are scheduled to play 17 Tests in 2021 with a four-match series in India starting on 5 February.

Root says the challenge for his side now is replicating the performances “over and over again”.

“We know we’ve got so far to go still,” said Root, who has now won 23 of his 45 Tests in charge.

“We’ve got a lot of young players that are learning all the time. We’ve got to look at this as a platform and a starting position and not be happy with what we’ve achieved.

“We’re going to have to play at the top of our game to win in India, but we couldn’t be in a better place to go and challenge them and that really excites me, and should excite the rest of the group.”

England were faced with a 37-run deficit after the first innings but bowled Sri Lanka out for 126 in 35.5 overs to set up the win.

Spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach had figures of 4-49 and 4-59 respectively, while Root took the final two wickets in successive balls.

Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya took three wickets to leave England 89-4 in their chase, before Dom Sibley and Jos Buttler shared an unbroken 75 to guide England home.

“The most pleasing thing for me was that the spinners took the responsibility and ownership to get us into that position,” said Root.

“I thought the way we handled the chase with such calmness and poise was really outstanding.

“To deal with that kind of pressure, on a surface like that, shows we’ve come a long way. In the past we’d have made that look a lot more difficult.”

The victory also improves England’s chances of reaching the World Test Championshipexternal-link final at Lord’s in June. They remain fourth in the table and need a comprehensive series win in India to finish in the top two spots.

‘We’ve got to learn from Root’

Sri Lanka have now only won two of their past eight Test matches and alongside their disappointing second-innings effort on Monday, they were bowled out in 46.1 overs on the opening day of the series.

“We were outplayed,” said stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal, who was one of a number of batsmen to play a rash shot.

“We have done all the hard work in the last three days but as a batting unit we made the same mistakes of the first Test.

“There are no excuses for the batsmen and we’ve got to learn how to bat like Root. He was outstanding.

“Credit goes to England, they have done tremendously well.”

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