‘Bold’ England win Sri Lanka series but Joe Root wants more

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England's captain Joe Root, left, and Ben Faokes celebrate their victory over Sri Lanka by 57 runs in the second Test match between Sri Lanka and England in Pallekele. (AP)
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England's Joe Root acknowledges the crowd after their team's victory over Sri Lanka by 57 runs in the second test cricket match in Pallekele. (AP)
Updated 18 November 2018
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‘Bold’ England win Sri Lanka series but Joe Root wants more

KANDY: Captain Joe Root set his sights on taking England to the top of the world rankings after his spin trio finished off Sri Lanka in the second Test on Sunday to seal the series with a match to spare.
England needed just 30 minutes on the fifth day to take the final three Sri Lanka wickets. Jack Leach got last man Malinda Pushpakumara caught and bowled to claim his first five-wicket Test haul.
Moeen Ali took four wickets and Adil Rashid one as England’s three frontline spinners accounted for the whole innings, as well as 18 of Sri Lanka’s 20 wickets in the game overall.
Root’s 124 in England’s second innings also played a key role in the 57-run victory and earned him the man-of-the-match award.
Celebrating England’s first away series win since beating South Africa in 2015-16 and his first away triumph as captain, Root sees England — who are currently ranked third in the world — challenging India for the top Test team spot.
“It was a brilliant Test match,” said Root, whose team had to twice fight back after their top order batsmen gave away cheap wickets.
“It ebbed and flowed throughout, like against India in the summer, and it’s pleasing to see another close game go our way.
“We said we’d come out here and play bold cricket, and be courageous. It’s easy to talk a good game but we’ve backed it up,” Root said.
“We have to keep looking to improve. The team has grown in the last 18 months but we are not the finished article. We want to get to number one in the world and that means performing in all conditions around the world.”
Sri Lanka needed 301 in their second innings to register an upset win but managed just 243 at the Pallekele ground.
They started the day needing 75 more runs and with three wickets in hand had an outside chance.
After Niroshan Dickwella was caught by Ben Stokes off Moeen Ali for 35 — the first wicket of the morning — Sri Lanka’s hopes were all but extinguished.
Moeen then struck No. 10 batsman Suranga Lakmal, the Sri Lanka skipper, on the pad next ball for a strong lbw appeal which was turned down. He bowled Lakmal his very next delivery.
Pushpakumara lasted only eight balls before chipping the ball back to Leach and the game was over.
Leach, playing just his third Test, said the game had been “unbelievable.”
“It feels good to have three spinners in the team. We all know our roles and help each other out. It’s nice to make history and hopefully we can carry that on now,” said Rashid.
Root insisted that England will not ease up for the third and final Test which starts in Colombo on Friday.
Sri Lanka will be looking to strengthen their rebuilding, said coach Chandika Hathurusingha.
“We’re looking at the bigger picture,” he said.
“This is the first series we lost this year. We won against South Africa 2-0. In these two games there were very close games. We had the opportunity to win both games at times.
“England played better cricket than us. We have to accept that. We have to learn from these mistakes,” he added.
“The skill is still there — that’s what I’m banking on. That’s the hope that I have with this team.”


Liverpool return to top of the table with 3-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United

Updated 16 December 2018
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Liverpool return to top of the table with 3-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United

  • Shaqiri braces gives Reds deserved win over United at Anfield.
  • Mourinho's men well beaten as Liverpool leapfrog Manchester City ti return to top of the table.

LIVERPOOL: Two deflected Xherdan Shaqiri strikes handed Liverpool victory over Manchester United in the Premier League for the first time in nine attempts as Jurgen Klopp’s men moved back to the top of the table with a 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.
United manager Jose Mourinho claimed ahead of the game that the league leaders have had luck on their side this season, but while there was fortune in substitute Shaqiri’s two goals in the final 17 minutes, the visitors did not deserve anything more than a fifth defeat of the season.
Liverpool leapfrogged Manchester City to finish the weekend where they started, a point clear at the top, and move a mammoth 19 clear of United, who remain in sixth and are now 11 points off the top four.
The contrasting form showed by both sides this season continued as United strained to keep a rampant Liverpool at bay and were only level for so long thanks to a huge error by home goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Sadio Mane had given Liverpool the lead before Jesse Lingard levelled when Alisson dropped a routine cross at the feet of the England international.
United had the ball in the net first on a rare foray forward but Romelu Lukaku was flagged offside despite not getting a touch to Ashley Young’s free-kick.
But Liverpool then laid siege to the visitors’ goal with David de Gea stretching to keep out a low drive from Roberto Firmino, Young clearing off the line and Fabinho firing wide from the edge of the box.
Only Manchester City have kept Klopp’s side from scoring in the Premier League this season and a United defense that has kept just one clean sheet in the league since September never looked capable of holding out like they had in their two previous visits to Anfield.
Mourinho’s men were finally breached when Mane controlled Fabinho’s chipped ball into the box on his chest and volleyed past the onrushing De Gea.
However, Liverpool’s momentum was punctured by an Alisson gift 12 minutes before the break.
The Brazilian was Liverpool’s hero with an injury-time save to secure the Reds’ place in the last 16 of the Champions League against Napoli on Tuesday.
But he spilled Lukaku’s simple cross into the path of the grateful Lingard to bundle the ball into an unguarded net.
The second half followed a similar pattern with one-way traffic toward the Kop as Liverpool sought the goal to take them back to the top of the table.
De Gea scrambled low to his left to palm Firmino’s prodded effort to safety, while Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk saw efforts deflected behind.
Jurgen Klopp turned to Shaqiri to unlock the United defense 20 minutes from time and the Swiss international needed just three to put Liverpool back in front.
De Gea did well to prevent Ander Herrera turning Mane’s cross into his own net, but the ball fell for Shaqiri and his effort cannoned off Young and in off the underside of the bar.
Seven minutes later, Shaqiri got lucky again when, this time on his favored left foot, his shot flicked off the diving Eric Bailly to leave De Gea helpless.