Moeen Ali is closing in on 150 Test wickets for England after shining with the ball on day two of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.
The Worcestershire all-rounder moved to within one wicket of that milestone as he returned 4-66 from 21 overs in Sri Lanka’s first innings.
His efforts helped England to bowl out Sri Lanka for 203 in 68 overs and earn a first innings lead of 139.
Off spinner Moeen has now picked up 16 wickets in two and a half Tests since returning to the side for the final two Tests of the summer against India.
The 31-year-old, playing in his 53rd Test, made his first breakthrough when Sri Lankan number three Dhananjaya de Silva (14) played a rash shot shortly before lunch.
He went across his stumps in an attempt to sweep Moeen and was bowled to leave Sri Lanka on 40-4.
Moeen’s next victim was the most crucial one as he dismissed Sri Lanka’s former captain and top scorer in this innings in Angelo Matthews.
He had made 52 when a Moeen delivery looped up off his glove to short leg where Keaton Jennings moved forward to take the catch.
Moeen – Worcestershire’s Vitality Blast winning captain – then stuck in successive overs.
First Niroshan Dickwella (28) was tempted by a delivery which was tossed up and holed out to Jos Buttler at short cover.
Then Akila Dananjaya (0) pushed forward to a flighted delivery and was caught behind by England’s debutant century-maker Ben Foakes.
Moeen thought he had completed his sixth five-for in Test cricket in the same over when the ball smashed into the pads of Suranga Lakmal before he had scored.
But he was given not out and, after England reviewed the decision, replays revealed a faint edge before the delivery struck Lakmal’s pads.
England reached 38-0 in their second innings and Moeen will have time to recharge his batteries overnight before he is due in next on the third day.