‘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.”


Old Trafford holds no fears for Pep Guardiola and title-chasing Manchester City

Updated 23 April 2019
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Old Trafford holds no fears for Pep Guardiola and title-chasing Manchester City

  • Victory for City in the Premier League clash will keep the reigning champions on course for the title
  • City boast an impressive run of five wins and a draw in their last seven league visits to Old Trafford

MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Old Trafford is no longer a “scary” place to visit ahead of Wednesday’s derby at the home of Manchester United.
Victory for City in the Premier League clash will keep the reigning champions on course to become the first team in English football history to win a treble of all three major domestic trophies in the same season.
City boast an impressive run of five wins and a draw in their last seven league visits to Old Trafford — a sequence that includes 6-1 and 3-0 victories.
Guardiola, however, refused to use that form guide as a reason for confidence, although he accepted a trip to Old Trafford was not as daunting as in previous years.
“I don’t make theories about what happened in the past for what is going to happen in the future,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday.
“Every game is completely different. The reason why is the fact this club in the last decade grew a lot and it is not scary to go there.
“Before it was maybe more difficult. The players Manchester City had in the last decade made this game a little bit more equal.”
Man City can move one point clear of title rivals Liverpool at the top of the table heading into their final three games of the season with victory over United.
This latest derby takes place against the backdrop of United’s woeful 4-0 loss away to Everton on Sunday, a lacklustre display that was roundly criticized.
Guardiola, however, did not expect the Goodison Park performance to have a major bearing on the derby.
“A little bit, yeah but even a good result, the confidence will be higher,” said Guardiola when asked if United’s defeat by Everton made his task harder.
“It is a derby and all the times we play against United, the derbies are always special games and the players do their best for the fans, the club.”
The Catalan boss added: “I saw the game, I imagine what will happen against us. The game against Everton is over.”
City will visit Old Trafford without inspirational playmaker Kevin De Bruyne who suffered a hamstring injury in the weekend win over Tottenham Hotspur that came just days after a dramatic Champions League semifinal loss to Spurs ended hopes of a quadruple.
It is the latest problem to hamper the Belgian in a campaign that has seen him plagued by knee trouble and Guardiola said De Bruyne would required a concerted training program ahead of next season.
“Muscular problems, he had two or three,” recalled Guardiola.
“In England you don’t have time to make a preparation.
“You play every three days that is not the best way. You have to make a good pre-season. Now he has to pay attention, the little details, see if he can play one or two more games this season and next season make a good pre-season.”
Meanwhile Guardiola denied claims that winger Riyad Mahrez — the club’s £60 million ($78 million, 69 million euros) record signing from Leicester last season — is unhappy at his lack of first-team opportunities and keen to move on from City.
“Riyad will be with us for the next season here and the next one and the next one,” he said.
“I don’t need to speak with him. He will be with us next season,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss added. “He is a player for us. We are delighted with him and the way he plays.
“He is happy we are here. Everyone knows the competition we have here. He came last season to stay longer. It is not necessary to speak to him.”