Sri Lanka escape with draw

2014-06-16 19:56
Kumar Sangakkara (AFP)

London - Sri Lanka tail-ender Nuwan Pradeep survived the final five balls of the match as the tourists clung on for a thrilling draw with England in the first Test at Lord's on Monday.

England, in their first Test since their 5-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia and with a new-look team including three debutants, thought they'd won when Stuart Broad had Pradeep given out lbw off the penultimate ball of the match.

But Pradeep reviewed Australian umpire Paul Reiffel's decision and, with technology showing an inside edge, he was reprieved.

Sri Lanka, set 390 to win after England captain Alastair Cook declared before the start of Monday's play, finished on 201 for nine.

The match was meandering towards a draw until England spearhead James Anderson struck either side of tea on the way to a remarkable return of four wickets for 25 runs in 19 overs, but it wasn't quite enough to secure a stunning win.

Instead the result left the teams all-square ahead of Friday's second and final Test of the series at Headingley.

"I can't praise the lads enough," said England captain Alastair Cook at the presentation ceremony.

"That was a flat wicket...We gave ourselves a chance and to come up short is frustrating."

Cook declared on England's overnight 267 for eight, which owed much to Gary Ballance's 104 not out -- the Zimbabwe-born batsman's maiden Test century in only his second match at this level.

That left Sri Lanka needing to break the Lord's record for a winning fourth-innings total in a Test of 344 for one, requiring 342, set by the West Indies against England in 1984, for victory.

It was a target they never looked like approaching in Monday's final 90 overs.

But Cook said England's slump to 121 for six on Sunday had delayed his declaration.

"When you're setting up the game, we were trying to play positively and gave wickets away.

"Those four or five wickets yesterday (Sunday) cost us having half an hour at them last night."

England's Joe Root, named man-of-the-match in his comeback Test for a first-innings 200 not out - his maiden Test double century - added: "Twelve months ago we were told we were playing dour cricket, I don't think anyone can say that now."

Meanwhile relieved Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, who made a first-innings century before batting for over two hours for 18 on Monday, said: "It was a close game, I thought England bowled pretty well, especially after tea, hitting the deck pretty hard and asking questions of our batsmen.

"It was a great team effort trying to survive."

Sri Lanka appeared in little danger at 159 for two, with debutant Moeen Ali - brought in to fill the gap left by retired off-spinner Graeme Swann even though he's primarily a batsman - bowling 12 wicketless overs on a last-day pitch.

However, Anderson changed the complexion of the match with three wickets for one run in 14 balls either side of tea.

First he had Mahela Jayawardene caught behind for 18, hanging out his bat.

And he then dismissed Kumar Sangakkara, who in common with Jayawardene was probably playing his last Test at Lord's, for 61 when the left-hander played on.

His exit meant Sangakkara had fallen for under 100 for the first time in four Test knocks after his 147 in the first innings of this match followed scores of 319 and 105 against Bangladesh in Chittagong in March.

There were just under seven overs remaining when seamer Broad had Nuwan Kulasekara lbw.

Mathews, did his best to bat Sri Lanka to safety until eventually edging Anderson straight to Cook at first slip.

England now needed two wickets in the final three overs.

And they still had two wickets to take come the last over, from Broad.

To the very first ball of that over Rangana Herath was caught behind off the glove by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Then came the fifth ball drama before Pradeep (nought not out) edged the final delivery short of the slips.


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