Then, Keaton Jennings, with an unbeaten 146 in the second innings took the game out of Sri Lanka's hands.
Rangana Herath reflected on the "privilege and honour" of representing Sri Lanka following his final Test appearance.
From Sri Lanka, Dilruwan Perera made a huge gain. Adds that if you bat the way they did, there's no real chance left in the game.
When asked about the situation of the game when he came to the crease, Foakes said: "All I was thinking was to grind in and just make it hard for them to get me out basically".
The 211-run victory was the first away win for England in 14 Tests going back more than two years, a first on the road under Root's captaincy and only a fourth defeat for Sri Lanka at Galle in their last 14 matches at the venue.
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It was the hosts that took the game to their opponents, and they were lucky to still be on level terms before half-time. Welbeck may have suffered a "career ending" injury, according to medical expert Johnny Wilson.
"We've got a fantastic squad of players; we came into this tour knowing that we've got different options".
Although Sri Lanka was well beaten in Galle, Herath - who intends to play on in first-class cricket - spoke with optimism about the team's future.
Moeen Ali picked up four wickets in each innings and a total of eight wickets for the Test was by far the best bowler on display.
"Jonny, fully fit, would have played this Test match, probably would have performed well, done well with the gloves and scored runs and we wouldn't be having this conversation", insisted Prior.
But soon after the morning drinks break, Leach broke though when he had Silva out leg before wicket for 30.
England strode towards victory in the first Test in Galle on Friday, claiming four quick wickers either side of tea as thunderstorms held off.
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'Credit goes to England, they played some outstanding cricket.
In reply, Sri Lanka managed to survive at the stumps of day 3 without losing any wickets and Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva were the overnight batsmen.
"To be able to contribute to the team is just unbelievable", Foakes said after being named man-of-the-match.
England's varied attack, with three quicks and three spinners, applied substantial pressure, with the slightly expensive Rashid the only minor disappointment.
Herath retired from worldwide cricket as one of the most successful Lankan bowlers in Tests after Muttiah Muralitharan who scalped 800 wickets.
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