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

Lankans loving Lord's and Thirimanne's bogeyman

A look at the stats highlights after England and Sri Lanka played out a thrilling draw at Lord's

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 17, 2014, 11:35 GMT

    Satisfied with the end result but I wish SL chased it with more conviction (geez, it reminded me what happened with PAK in dec 2013). Anyway Sanga still is masterclass and he has been accumulating runs in every tour. Mahela looks ordinary with his contributions in the past few tours and if not for his experience and knowledge, his performances would be under scrutiny and should be on the chopping blocks. Anyway, It is time to build a batting order around Angelo as he is the only consistent young talent who gives 100% at all time. I still favor giving exposure to Chandimal, Damith and Kithruwan on bouncy pitches more than to Thirimanna.

  • Rupert on June 17, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    Bishens article is further proof how much the SL Test side depend on Sangakarra and Mahel J... Sangakarra especially... They are in the twilight of their careers and SL haven't really groomed any replacements.

  • Roshan on June 17, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    @ Andrew..it says ENG bowlers were not good enough..no?

  • andrews on June 17, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    No I do not believe Sri Lanka had a good Test overall. You are a stats man. What does 50 runs per wicket for England and 34 runs per wicket for Sri Lanka say to you?

  • Laksiri on June 17, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    Ultimately statguru proved correct. Most pleasing result for SL fans. There was 87% probability for a draw on the way and SL just managed the way out of Sherwoods, now heading Headingly/Leeds.. are the favourites. There was not much difference between village bowling or country batting when Test#2124 lucky numerics recorded the 22 instance of one great escape (unauthenticated data from the link above).SL sets off to Test#212x win, reconciling errors made by the Captain and collective team management,setting aside personal stats with their Captain cool jr....................

  • Amindha on June 17, 2014, 4:12 GMT

    what about the terrible umpiring ? esp reiffel

  • Chatty on June 17, 2014, 0:15 GMT

    It was a great effort by SL to draw this game. But, I think they became too defensive in the second session. It is certainly very important to be cautious. But being over cautious enables to opposition to take complete control of the game. SL has had a habit of doing this over the last couple of years. I think it is not a good way to fight in the last inning of a test match.