Lankans loving Lord's and Thirimanne's bogeyman
The biggest total that Sri Lanka have successfully overhauled in the fourth innings of a Test is 352, which they did when they beat South Africa at Colombo in August 2006. The target of 390 that England had set them was always going to be an uphill task. Sri Lanka had once scored 391 in the fourth innings of a drawn game against Pakistan. Sri Lanka's only score of 400-plus in the fourth innings of a Test came against Australia, when they were bowled out for 410 in a chase of 507. However, they could have taken inspiration from the fact that it came overseas and that Kumar Sangakkara, currently in great form, scored 192 in that game.
During the chase, Sri Lanka lost their first wicket quite early, and that brought Sangakkara to the crease. This was the third time that Sangakkara was coming out to bat in the fourth innings at Lords's; he has never had the opportunity to bat in the last innings of a Test at any other English venue. His highest score in his previous two fourth-innings outings at Lord's was 12. During the 98-run third-wicket partnership with Sangakkara, Kaushal Silva scored his second fifty of the match. He became the first Sri Lanka, and fifth subcontinental, opener to achieve this feat. The man at the other end, Sangakkara, scored a confident and determined 61. This was only the third instance of a Sri Lanka batsman scoring a century and a fifty at Lord's. Among overseas teams, Sri Lanka batsmen have achieved this feat the most number of times.
During his stint in the middle, Sangakkara put on a brief, 36-run partnership with Mahela Jayawardene for the third wicket. They put on 126 runs together in the first innings as well and, during this match, went past Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer to go third on the all-time list of most partnership runs by a pair in Test cricket. They have put on a total of 6151 runs together and are one of five pairs to have posted 5000+ runs together in Test cricket.
However, Sangakkara and Jayawardene couldn't see their team through to safety because both of them were dismissed by James Anderson during a devastating spell where he bowled six overs for two runs, including four maiden overs and, most importantly, three big wickets. The third wicket that he took during that spell was that of Lahiru Thirimanne. Thirimanne has now been dismissed by Anderson six times in eight Test innings. He has not been dismissed more than once by any other bowler in Tests. Anderson, with this near match-winning performance, has now taken 68 wickets at Lord's and is only one behind the great Ian Botham, who has the most wickets at this ground.
Sri Lanka had a good Test overall, with their batsmen going past fifty on six occasions and going on to reach a hundred on two of those instances. This is only the second time that Sri Lanka have done this outside the subcontinent. They may have made heavy weather of it towards the end but their batsmen did play out 90 overs to secure the draw. Among overseas teams, only Australia and India have played out more overs to draw a Test at Lord's. This was the 22nd instance of a team managing to eke out a draw with only one wicket in the bank. The last instance of a one-wicket draw also involved England, but they were the ones staving off defeat on that occasion, in Auckland last year.
Bishen Jeswant is a stats sub editor at ESPNcricinfo.@bishen_jeswant