Leeds - Joe Root and Moeen Ali prevented England losing further wickets in
the second Test against Sri Lanka before rain on Tuesday's final day at
Headingley bolstered the hosts' hopes of a draw.
Root (nine not
out) and Ali (22 not out) survived more than an hour's play Tuesday to
take England to 83 for five - still needing a further 267 runs to reach
their victory target of 350 - before rain at 13:11 led to
an early lunch on the fifth day.
England resumed on 57 for five,
having collapsed in the face of paceman Dhammika Prasad's sensational
burst of four wickets for 15 runs on Monday.
included England's two most experienced batsmen in captain Alastair Cook
and Ian Bell, with more than 200 Tests between them, while left-arm
spinner Rangana Herath had nightwatchman Liam Plunkett out for a duck
off the last ball of the day.
England needed to surpass their
86-year-old highest fourth innings record total to win of 332 for seven
against Australia at Melbourne in 1928 if they were to record a
It was all a far cry from when England were
311 for three after tea on the second day of this Test, thanks to
Australia-born opener Sam Robson's maiden Test century, and even when
they reduced Sri Lanka to 277 for seven on Monday - a lead of just 169.
that point Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews threw his bat down in
frustration after Prasad had been dismissed for a golden duck.
But all-rounder Mathews went on to make a superb Test-best 160, the all-rounder's putting on 149 with the admirable Herath (48).
England did not help themselves by being more concerned with trying to
get Herath on strike than dismissing Mathews, with pacemen James
Anderson and Stuart Broad looking to have run out of steam with Cook,
reluctant to use Ali despite the 'part-time' spinner's two wickets in
three balls in the first innings, running out of ideas.
annoyed by the way in which former coach Paul Farbrace left them to
become Peter Moores's England deputy and angered by both accusations of
unsporting behaviour for the 'Mankad' run out of Jos Buttler in their
one-day series clinching win at Edgbaston and the reporting of
limited-overs spinner Sachithra Senanayake, were on the brink of winning
their first Test series on English soil of more than one match.
In Auckland last year Matt Prior took England to an unlikely draw by repelling New Zealand for 54 overs.
England, who had hoped this two-match series would see them recover
from their 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia and who were just five balls
away from defeating Sri Lanka in the first Test at Lord's before the
tourists clung on for a draw, had a minimum of 90 overs, weather
permitting to bat on Tuesday.
However, with Root content to defend
and left-hander Ali hitting three fours, England avoided fresh
embarrassment before the rain fell.