‘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

‘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.”


Champion Marquez begins 2020 build-up in Japan

Repsol Honda Team rider Marc Marquez of Spain takes a corner during the second free practice session at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Motegi, Tochigi prefecture on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 min 34 sec ago

Champion Marquez begins 2020 build-up in Japan

  • Behind Marquez all riders down to Quartararo are still in with a chance of the runners up position for the 2019 season

MOTEG, JAPAN: With his sixth MotoGP world title already secured, Marc Marquez will head into this weekend’s Japanese race already planning for next season where he will aim to close in on Giacomo Agostini’s all-time record of eight elite level championships.
Spain’s Marquez claimed his sixth MotoGP crown in seven seasons last time out in Thailand, with four races to spare, and eighth overall.
A race victory on Sunday would be his 10th of the season but the 26-year-old Honda rider is already thinking of next year where another title would take him level with Valentino Rossi, who won the last of his seven world championships in 2009, one back from Agostini, whose record eighth came in 1975.
“The target now is to win the ‘Triple Crown,’” said Marquez. “The constructors championship is there but the team championship will be difficult, we’ll never give up. 2020 starts in Motegi.”
His focus on next year comes as a consequence of the pressure being applied by fast-improving French rookie Fabio Quartararo.
The Yamaha rider has suffered two narrow defeats to the world champion in recent races with victory only decided on the closing laps.
“I didn’t expect this guy,” Marqeuz said of Quartararo. “He will be a very tough contender next year for the championship.”
The 20-year-old Frenchman has had four pole positions and five podium slots so far.
“I really like this track,” Quartararo said on Thursday on the Twin Ring Motegi track which is 86 miles away from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.
“The objective at the beginning of the year was to take the ‘Rookie of the year’ title, but I’m not focussing on that any more.”
Quartararo’s rookie season has seen the Petronas Yamaha rider climb to seventh in the rankings, and in the second half of the season he has emerged as Marquez’s biggest rival.
Behind Marquez all riders down to Quartararo are still in with a chance of the runners up position for the 2019 season.
However, Ducati’s 33-year-old Andrea Dovizioso, who won in Japan in 2017, can seal second place on Sunday.
“I’m expecting to deliver a big performance, it’s a stop-start kind of course with fast acceleration key and our machine likes that even if some of the bends suit other bikes,” said Dovizioso, who was 125cc champion back in 2004 but never yet won the title in the top category.
The season wraps up with a 21st race at Valencia in mid-November after visits to Australia and Malaysia.