England v Sri Lanka, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 5th day June 16, 2014

Sri Lanka cling on for dramatic draw


Sri Lanka 453 (Sangakkara 147, Mathews 102 and 210 for 9 (Sangakkara 61, Anderson 4-25) drew with England 575 for 9 dec. (Root 200*, Pradeep 4-123) and 267 for 8 dec. (Ballance 104*, Herath 4-95)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

There have been few finishes to a Lord's Test, perhaps any Test, as dramatic as this, few climaxes that boiled up from such an unpromising position. After the penultimate ball of the match, and Stuart Broad in full flow, England's fielders converged in jubilation, convinced they had completed a footslogging victory with seconds to spare.

But in their excitement they had overlooked one thing: Sri Lanka's last man, Nuwan Pradeep, might be a batting novice, but he knows how to signal for a DRS review. Broad heard only the thwack of a fullish ball on pad. But rarely has the top of a bat been patted so defiantly. Replays revealed a thick edge, missed by the umpire Paul Reiffel.

Broad summoned himself for one last effort and found Pradeep's edge again, this the outside of the bat; it scuttled inches short of second slip. Their sighs were audible. England's hard slog was unrewarded; Sri Lanka could escape to Headingley for the second Test with the series still 0-0. And if the BCCI can watch such a finish and even now, still insist, hand on heart, that their series against England will be better for no DRS then they will have defied the ultimate argument in its favour.

As for the 17 overs lost in the match because of slow overrates - and faults lay on both sides - it is England who will rue that now.

That Pradeep had five balls in the last over to survive was a story in itself. Rangana Herath was Sri Lanka's ninth man out, to the first ball of the final over - but he should never have walked. Herath's bottom hand was off the bat when Broad struck the glove and Matt Prior took a leaping leg side catch, but he walked off as if oblivious to the Law, leaving umpire Reiffel with no chance to intervene.

As Herath returned to the Sri Lanka dressing room, no doubt to the stifled consternation of his team mates, Pradeep entered. Pradeep: the man dismissed in the first innings when he was struck on the helmet by Chris Jordan and careered into his stumps in a mixture of shock and self-preservation. The most Sri Lanka could hope for that he had practiced his straddle leap. But somehow he clung on. He ducked a bouncer, played and missed and blocked one stoutly. Then came DRS: then came an attempt to find fairness. What could have followed was an outcry, a sense of injustice, endless recriminations.

That England got so close owed much to their ability to refuse to accept the inevitable. They were an over short of the final 10 overs with the second new ball when the sixth Sri Lankan wicket fell. It was the sort of bonus wicket to lift a bowling side, enabling them to regather resolve and scent an immediate opportunity to put a new batsman under pressure.

The wicket was Jordan's, the ball a full length, and the initial not out decision by umpire Billy Bowden highly erroneous. England used their final review to overturn it: Hawk Eye suggested the ball was crashing into middle and leg.

It was the brink of 6pm, floodlights piercing the heavy overcast skies, and the bowlers finally finding hope. England's field for the first delivery with the second new ball briefly captured the mood of the day; indeed, of the match. Jordan was in his final over, completing a spell of 8-7-2-1 and he bowled to two slips and five leg side catchers. It might have been captured on a Victorian painting with the title: "England's unusual field".

The field quickly became conventional. The new ball swung immediately, especially for James Anderson. Nuwan Kulusekara was lbw to Broad with 40 balls remaining. Anderson found Angelo Mathews' edge for Cook to take the catch at first slip: his 350th Test wicket, his fourth in the innings.

Mathews, who had clung on for two-and-a-quarter hours to make 18, can rarely have played so cautiously. As Prior informed him after his first defensive stroke: "It's a long time to block".

That England got so close owed everything to a seven-over spell either side of tea from Anderson which produced four maidens and yielded three wickets for only three runs. This was the last time that Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene would bat together in a Test at Lord's and when they were departed just before tea the merest hint of an England victory was reawakened.

Until then Sri Lanka had looked comfortable. "Let's have a quiet one," they might have said, like two old mates catching a final beer together to mark the passage of time. And it certainly was a quiet one, a contemplative end to a Lord's Test that left to its own devices was bent upon heading towards a draw.

Anderson did his best to wrest the steering wheel. He looked tired and dispirited in Australia: tired enough to encourage people to look up his age and wonder if he was on the decline, but he remains lithe and fit and his zip was evident once more in arduous bowling conditions.

England's only success in the morning was the wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne, who inside-edged a short ball from Broad onto his thigh pad and to Sam Robson at short leg. Broad did not flog the middle of the pitch half as much even in the days when he regarded himself as The Enforcer. Only this time, on such a somnolent surface, it was more in desperation.

Overcast skies seemed favourable to England's cause and Alastair Cook ran Anderson for eight overs in the search of a second breakthrough, but Silva and Sangakkara held firm and when he was removed from the attack they must have felt that the first little victory had been achieved. Sri Lanka made 99 runs up to lunch, but were strokeless thereafter, adding only 102 in the last two sessions.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene joined forces in mid-afternoon when Kaushal Silva became the second Sri Lankan wicket to fall. Even then it needed an England review to secure it. Silva flicked at a leg-side delivery from Liam Plunkett and gloved it to Prior, the decision of umpire Bowden this time corrected. Desire flooded out of Sangakkara; Jayawardene was a passive, a touch player feeling the pressure of a backs-to-the-wall struggle.

On such a pitch, England's absence of a specialist spinner was a disadvantage. Moeen Ali has bowled his off spin respectably throughout. He found minimal turn on this fifth-day surface, although there was some bounce. When he did turn one out of the footholds, in the penultimate over before lunch, the ball died in front of Ian Bell at gully like a piece of apple blossom.

Statistics insisted from the outset that Sri Lanka's sole task was to bat out the final day. Nobody had ever overhauled a target of 390 at Lord's, and there was only a day to do it. They had only batted more than 90 overs in the fourth innings to salvage a draw on three occasions, only once away from home, in Hamilton in 1991. Lord's has now joined that list.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 20, 2014, 5:05 GMT

    Better to replace Prasanna by Chandimal, Thirimanne by Dilruwan and Kulasekara by Prasad/Thisara. Thirimanna is a bunny for Anderson.

  • damien on June 19, 2014, 12:50 GMT

    England could have done with a spinner the quality of N.Lyon.

  • saravana on June 19, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    @Lion_Wallaby I didnt say Lanka didnt win test series at home but they struggled much to win a series as you asked for facts here it is from espncricinfo itself now what you are going to say facts itself is wrong or what? total test from 2011 to 2014 wins abroad played abroad wins home plyd wins india 30 12 16 1 14 11 lanka 30 8 11 2 12 5 neutral venue played by lanka 6 matches only one was won ,india no neutral venues match.Not only this in the end of 2010 year lanka couldnt win any match against westindies at home 3 tests all ended in draw.Is the facts enough or you want more??

  • Dummy4 on June 18, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    Certainly England Narrowly Missed the Victory in Lord.s Cricket Ground.England Bowling Attack Was Very Good But Still They Lack a Good Spinner.SL Did Well in there Ist innings.Could not Repeat the Same performances on 2nd innings.Lahiru Thrimanne and Nuwan Kulasekara did not play well.SL Selection Commitee Members Must bring Chandimal and thisara perera in place of Lahiru and Nuwan to attack the english bowling When situation Arises.Even they Play Test Maches Still there is a opportunity to attack and make more runs to attract the crowed.Hope there will be Exciting match on the 2nd Test Match.

  • Dummy4 on June 18, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    England's -ve tactics hurt again...............They need an aggressive captain like Clarke Ponting

  • Dummy4 on June 18, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    Sangakkara is a good test batsman, but cant make real impact to the game towards victory..he should try to be more POSITIVE and maintain can WIN attitude as cricket is played to win not only for personal goals.

  • Dummy4 on June 18, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Good game to watch.But it was far from great.England should have declared when the target reached 320+.

    Had they declared with a target of 320 odd Srilanka would have tried to go for the win and would have made things spicy.

    Mark my words England will never regain no1 rankings again as long as Cook captains.He is too defensive and afraid to lose and so will miss countless opportunities to win

  • John on June 18, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    @ Arun Bose on (June 17, 2014, 2:49 GMT) It's not the fault of DRS that some fail to grasp what it's for. The standard of umpiring may have been poor and may also need addressing but DRS did overturn a Bell not out decision in the 1st inns and the (what would have been ) the final SL wicket. I believe Herath too would have been reprieved had he reviewed it but it's not the fault of DRS if a player fails to review a decision if it should be not out. Bell's 1st inns )non dismissal) was overturned and that WAS an LBW. The Ashes series was dogged by problems where the umpires (who had a good reputation) had stinkers and the 3rd umpire went against the system a few times. That and people not understanding how DRS works. It's like blaming a fully functional car for a poor driver ploughing off the road

    please publish this time - nothing of offence

  • Surath on June 18, 2014, 3:58 GMT

    @ chandimasl: Well said buddy. Completely agree with your comments. Thirimmana is a sitting duck against Anderson. Dimuth is a walking wicket. Prasanna may be able to keep wickets but certainly can not bat! Chandimal will do a better job as a Keeper/Bat in number 6 or 7 slot. Kithruwan is a better option as an opener opposed to Dimuth. We need some fire power at the top. Remember guys like Sanath, Dilshan? Silva can block while Kithruwan keeps the score board ticking.

    SL lost to Pakistn in Sharjah this year because all seniors wanted a draw. I thought Matthews and co must have learned a lesson from that game. But not. Being negative and playing defensive cricket is a recipe for disaster! That is certainly not the Sri Lankan brand of cricket. Kick out Dimuth, Kula and Prasanna. Bring in Kithruwan, Lakmal or (Welagedara/Prasad), Chandimal. Give Thirimanne ONE LAST chance. Then he goes out too!

  • Tim on June 18, 2014, 3:00 GMT

    @saravananunga: You can go through the results first. You have said SL is struggling to win test at home. Thats incorrect check when SL lost a test series at home for the last time. But SL has performed well outside Asia than Indian in last few years with wining one in SA and playing well to draw this one in Eng. You cannot critisise the SL team without getting your facts right. In this match SL got 18 English wickets and Eng got 19 SL wickets. If you say SL was poor then England also was poor.