England completed a historic 3-0 Sri Lanka series after a nervous win of 42 races on the fourth day of the last test at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
Things were much tighter than the tourists expected, after the hosts, who started the day with four wickets down, showed admirable resistance in search of a record 327 players.
However, just as it seemed that Kusal Mendis and Roshen Silva had brought their side back to the contest after a booth of over 30 overs on each side of lunch, Jack Leach intervened with an impressive finish that eventually decided this test.
The England team poses with a banner on the pitch in Columbus after competing with the series win
Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach celebrate after finally taking the shutter of Kusal Mendis
Leach (right) was one of England's leading actors on the fourth day of the test.
Captain Joe Root poses for a selfie with members of England's traveling barmy army & # 39;
Leach, whose dismissal of night watchman Lakshan Sandakan was the only wicker of a surprisingly complicated morning session, took the ball on a square leg after Roshen asked for a second break from Adil Rashid's bowling.
But Leach threw the stumps down with a bullet that left Mendis, placed in 86, out of his field at the end of the non-attacker. Cue pandemonium.
He left Sri Lanka at 184 for six, still with 143 victory, and left the door open for Joe Root's team to wrap up a historic victory.
However, they still had to break a position of difficult position of 58 between captains Suranga Lakmal and Malinda Pushpakumara to seal the victory.
Roshen Silva (right) was part of an impressive sixth-place stand of hosts in Colombo
Silva's resistance, along with Mendis, kept the contest interesting on Monday morning.
The England player Adil Rashid shows his frustration amid an impressive display of batters
TOP SPIN DO NOT TEST
– This was England's first road in a full series of tests in Asia – and for the third time Sri Lanka lost 3-0 at home. England double won 2-0 in Bangladesh, but both were two. His last 3-0 win away from home was in New Zealand in 1962-63.
– Exactly 100 of the 116 wickets that fell in the three tests were made by spinners – a comfortable record for a series of three matches. Previously the record was 79, between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in 1998. In a series involving England, there were 75 against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in 2011-12.
– Of the 100, Sri Lanka responded by 51 and England 49, with Jack Leach and Moeen Ali claiming 18 each, Adil Rashid 12 and Joe Root 1. Dilruwan Perera of Sri Lanka opened the way with 22.
– In Columbus, Keaton Jennings made six catches, equaling the highest-ever record of one England player. The most recent of the other seven examples was Alastair Cook against New Zealand at Hamilton in 2007-08.
– For the first time in a series of three tests, all 12 total entries were between 200 and 350.
– In tests that England won, Moeen Ali has already taken 52 wickets in the fourth round to 18 points each. Only Jimmy Anderson can match that number in wins in England: 52 to 22.
England have won eight of their last nine races, losing only to India at Trent Bridge. It is the best sequence since 2004 when Michael Vaughan's team won 11 of 12 of the West Indies (home and away), New Zealand and South Africa.
Fortunately for England, Leach once again took center stage in the first after tea to arrest Lakmal lbw to seal a famous victory.
Not only did the first series of tests outside England win since 2016 when they beat South Africa 2-1 but only the third time they have won all the tests of a series abroad with three or more matches.
In 1963, a team led by Ted Dexter won 3-0 in New Zealand. Before that, you have to go back to 1896, when England painted South Africa by the same score.
Although England have already sealed this series with wins in the first two matches in Galle and Kandy, getting to complete the first race in 55 years is a remarkable triumph for Root's men especially when they came to Sri Lanka on the back of a record without wins of 13 tests.
Only Australia in 2004 and India last year have already laundered Sri Lanka at home.
This result also continues the good season of England since the summer, with Root's men now winning eight of their last nine tests.
Given this was a year that started with a 4-0 Ashes hammering in Australia and an embarrassing 1-0 defeat in New Zealand, the character shown by Root and his players to come back so well has been impressive. In fact, they are now in 2nd place in the world after finishing last winter in fifth.
Now with a tour of three West Indian tests to arrive early next year and an Ashes home on the horizon in the summer, England can look to the future positively.
Mendis was part of a severe resistance from Sri Lanka, while England pointed to a lime
Leach intervened in this position with an amazing race that ended up deciding this test
With an Ashes home on the horizon, England can look to the future positively
Sri Lanka had begun on this last day with 53 to four, with Danushka Gunathilika, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya De Silva and Angelo Mathews, all dismissed on the third night.
England took half an hour to make the breakthrough this morning, Leach found the turn and then the edge of Sandakan and Ben Stokes taking the slip when Sri Lanka dropped to 82 for five.
But the tourists were frustrated with the sixth shutter between Mendis, who created his first half-century of the series, and Roshen before Leach's magical moment in the field.
It was perhaps inevitable that Leach took the next wicket, Niroshan Dickwella, dropped by Keaton Jennings in seven, this time in the first round, after England's left-arm spinner withdrew the lead.
Niroshan Dickwella was defeated at seven by Keaton Jennings in the short leg on Monday
Even with Roshen going from fifty, with 214 to seven, Sri Lanka still needed 113 more races to get an unlikely win.
That seemed a remote prospect, especially after Jennings made his sixth triumph in the game by deflecting Dilruwan Perera's chance at Moeen Ali's bowling.
Moeen struck again shortly after finally getting rid of Roshen at age 65, England successfully revising to lbw and the hosts going to 226 for nine.
There were still 101 victories left for the hosts, but the last place between Lakmal and Pushpakumara, with 12.1 overs, gave life to this competition.
Malinda Pushpakumara (left) was part of a final bank that covered 12.1 overs
England had burned its final review when Moeen convinced Root to climb to the lbw when Lakmal was in one.
Lakmal then survived again in four after being expelled from Moeen – only for the captain of Sri Lanka to be rescued in review.
At that stage, it took 60 races to give the home team a surprising consolation victory.
Root turned to Stuart Broad as England received the second new ball and the swimmer toppled Pushpakumara with his first delivery, with the tail-ender dipping into a short ball.
Pushpakumara is hit by a delivery of Stuart Broad of England during the fourth day
The end of the incident caused the tea break, which had been postponed for half an hour, when Sri Lanka had nine shutters down.
Until then, only 43 races were necessary to deny England its cleanliness.
However, England wrapped things up when Leach arrested Lakmal lbw with the third ball after tea.
It is time for the man to come and not even a Sri Lankan review, which showed the impact to be the referee's call, could deny him his moment in the sun.