Sri Lanka won their first Test in England since 2006 © Getty Images
Sri Lanka won their first Test in England since 2006 © Getty Images


By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Jun 24, 2014

Moeen Ali and James Anderson had batted for almost 21 overs when Shaminda Eranga dismissed the former off the penultimate delivery of the final day of the second Test at Headingley. Ali’s ton almost took England to safety as they started the day at 57 for five chasing 350. But, in the last over, Anderson, who had batted for 55 balls, fell and Sri Lanka registered their first win in England since 2006. They now won the series 1-0 with this 100-run victory.

If England had shown the fight they displayed on Day Five, they would have had a good chance to win the game. Ali and Joe Root started the day off gradually and defended with grit. They were moving at a snail’s-pace when the rain came down in the morning session and early lunch was taken. Root fell after a slow stand of 67 with Ali and Prior walked out.

However, Ali was the main man for England and he held on even as Matt Prior went about his job calmly. But, Prior was worked out by Dhammika Prasad who bowled a barrage of short balls from round the wicket and was ultimately caught at short-leg when he tried to fend one. There was an issue whether Prasad had got some part of his foot behind the line or not, but it was ultimately given out.

The pressure was on England , but Ali held them together. Chris Jordan had a nervous moment when he edged one to second slip, but Shaminda Eranga had overstepped. Later, Herath did manage to dismiss him.

It has been a fantastic Test match where Sri Lanka stole the honours on the last two days. Early on, it was pretty much even handed. On winning the toss, Alastair Cook put Sri Lanka in and bowled them out for 257. Only Kumar Sangakkara went past 50 in that innings with Liam Plunkett taking a fifer.

In reply, England were going well with Sam Robson scoring his maiden Test ton and Gary Ballance and Ian Bell scoring fifties. At 278 for two, they looked good to take a big lead but Eranga and Mathews took four wickets apiece to bowl England out for 365.

At the end of Day Three, the game was very well poised as Sri Lanka were 106 ahead with four wickets down. They had to press the initiative and Angelo Mathews smashed 160 to help them set a target of 350 for England. Mathews’ innings was a great captain’s knock and it took Sri lanka to a brilliant position. And that was bettered by Prasad who snared four in the evening with Herath taking one to see to it that England finish the day on 57 for five.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka  257 (Kumar Sangakkara 79, Dinesh Chandimal 45; Liam Punkett 5 for 64, Stuart Broad 3 for 46) and 457 (M Jayawardene 79, Angelo Mathews 149*; Liam Plunkett 4 for 112) beat England 365 (Sam Robson 127, Gary Ballance 74; Shaminda Eranga 4 for 93, Angelo Mathews 4 for 44) &  249 (Moeen Ali 108*; Dhammika Prasad 5 for 50) by 100 runs.

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