Rangana Herath finished with 12 wickets in the match as England suffered their fourth straight loss.
Galle: Rangana Herath completed a maiden 10-wicket haul to take Sri Lanka to an emphatic 75-run victory in the first Test against England despite Jonathan Trott's defiant century threatening to steal the game.
Chasing 340 to win, England were bowled out for 264 just after tea on the fourth day on Thursday. Herath finished the match with 12 for 171, having taken six wickets in each innings. He was named Man of the Match. Herath's spin bowling partner Suraj Randiv took 4 for 74.
Trott faced 266 balls and hit 10 boundaries before being out just before tea. It was his seventh century playing his 27th Test. Trott and wicketkeeper Matt Prior shared 81 runs for the fifth wicket to raise England's hopes but it was always a difficult chase on a spinner-friendly pitch at Galle. Prior, who made 41, was caught by Lahiru Thirimanne off Herath with the total on 233. Tillakaratne Dilshan took a diving catch on the rebound to dismiss Samit Patel (9).
England's hopes were all but over when Trott was caught well at leg-slip by Dilshan off spinner Randiv. England, the No. 1 Test team, lost their last six wickets for 31 runs and it is their fourth straight Test defeat after losing all matches of a three-match Test series against Pakistan. England were dismissed for 193 in their first innings in reply to Sri Lanka's 318. Sri Lanka made 214 in their second innings.
England captain Andrew Strauss felt that his team lost too many wickets despite being in a good position.
"There's no room for mistakes," Strauss said. "If you make them you've got to be lucky to get away with them and this game we weren't. We were in a great position to make use of the wicket but we all fell a bit too softly."
On the other hand, Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene praised Herath, saying he had taken on the responsibility of leading a less-fancied bowling unit since Muralitharan's retirement.
"He is the most experienced bowler I have right now," Jayawardene said. "He has taken the responsibility not just here but also away from home as well when he bowled us to victory in South Africa."
Jayawardene said Sri Lanka had to be patient when Trott and Prior were batting, hoping that the new ball will create a wicket chance. The hosts took the new ball in the 80th over and the partnership was broken within the next six balls.
"I thought Trott batted really well. It was a very patient knock from him," Jayawardene said. "It was a good challenge to go against the No. 1 team. We knew we had to work really hard to get a result."
Herath said he doesn't want to become overwhelmed by his new responsibility.
"Just because I take that pressure on me, I can't do anything extra," he said. "I know my limitations and I work within those."
The second and final Test will be played at P.Sara Oval in Colombo starting next Tuesday.