Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 5th day April 7, 2012

England level series to stay No.1


England 460 (Pietersen 151, Cook 94, Herath 6-133) and 97 for 2 beat Sri Lanka 275 (Mahela Jayawardene 105, Swann 4-75) and 278 (Mahela Jayawardene 64, Swann 6-106) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In the end it was a breeze. Whatever doubts England might have had about chasing 94 to win the second Test at the end of a tormented Asian winter did not manifest themselves as they gambolled to a victory that, for the moment at least, preserves their status as the No. 1-ranked side in the world.

Lurking memories of their collapse to 72 all out, in pursuit of 145, in Abu Dhabi barely two months ago were banished as Alastair Cook proceeded from the outset at a one-day rate and Kevin Pietersen added a lighthearted singalong to his majestic first-innings century. England had it all wrapped up within 20 overs, levelling the series at 1-1 and preventing Sri Lanka from achieving their own first Test series win for three years.

It was a steamy Colombo day - one reading showed 42C - so hot that holidaymakers along Sri Lanka's coast would be dragging sunbeds into the shade. England lost their captain, Andrew Strauss, for nought, bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan as he met one that turned with ponderous footwork and an angled blade, and Jonathan Trott followed lbw to Rangana Herath as Sri Lanka successfully asked for a referral, but they were not about to wilt in the sun.

Sri Lanka, who had added another 60 in the morning session, relied entirely upon their spinners in recognition that the P Sara pitch had finally become the minefield that many had long forecast. Cook signalled his intent by driving and cutting Dilshan for successive boundaries and scored 30 of England's first 40 runs. When he cut three times in one over at Herath, and missed the lot, Sri Lanka must have realised there would be no miracle.

Then Pietersen came over all Frank Sinatra, confident again to do it his way, gliding down the pitch to loft Herath straight for six. Appropriately, the match ended with Pietersen v Dilshan, reviving memories of the contretemps over Pietersen's switch hit. Mahela Jayawardene brought the field in and challenged Pietersen to win it with a six and he did so, launching the ball over midwicket. What did he think of April Tests in Colombo when the climate was at its fiercest? "A joke," Pietersen said, ingenuously.

Sri Lanka, six down overnight, lost three wickets in a rush, but Angelo Mathews countered briefly to turn an overnight lead of 33 into something a little more substantial. Their chief tormenter was Graeme Swann who had rolled in, sunglasses not quite disguising a scampish intent, to turn the game with two wickets in the penultimate over of the fourth day. He spun the ball viciously at times on a pitch that, for him at least, finally had become the spin bowler's friend.

Samit Patel also chipped in with his first wicket of the match when Herath anticipated Swann-like turn, found Patel-like turn instead and offered the simplest of chances to James Anderson at slip.

For Sri Lanka, the onus rested once more on Jayawardene. Swann, who took 6 for 106 to finish with ten wickets in the match, finally removed him an excellent ball which turned and bounced to hit the glove and lob easily to Cook, plunging forward at short leg. It was the end of a polished defensive innings - 64 from 191 balls with only four boundaries.

Jayawardene made 354 runs in four innings with two centuries and his stock has rarely been higher. It was easy to carp that Sri Lanka had not helped themselves by a scoring rate not much above two an over, but only Pietersen, whose rapid century had created the time in which England could win the game, had played with any panache on this pitch and to try to ape Pietersen in that mood would be to fly too close to the sun.

Two overs later and another Jayawardene followed, this time Prasanna, coming in two places lower at No. 9 thanks to Sri Lanka's recourse to nightwatchmen on the previous two evenings. It was a briefly unimpressive stay, ended when he tried to sweep and was bowled around his legs.

Mathews' survival owed much to a calamitous morning for Cook at short leg. Three times in five overs Swann had expectations of dismissing Mathews to a nudge to short leg, but Cook failed to cling to two low chances and then a third fell wide of him as Swann looked as dangerous as at any time on England's winter tours.

There was further frustration for England, too, when Mahela Jayawardene, on 58, was adjudged lbw by umpire Asad Rauf only for the decision to be overturned on review when the TV umpire, Rod Tucker, spotted an inside edge.

As wickets fell, Mathews eventually had little choice but to formulate an attacking response, but eventually an erratic surface betrayed him as Steven Finn made one stick in the pitch and Mathews, intent upon advancing to drive, could only chip into the leg side. England's run of failures were soon to be put behind them.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharon on April 10, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    @g.narsimha on (April 10 2012, 03:54 AM GMT) LOL man! India is not "final frontier". Only conceit this comment. What makes you think India is so important??? Whole world know that AUSTRALIA is the final frontier. Team that go there and beat them in their home must be a good team. India never did this even with their so-called "legendary" team (who were not so legendary, of course). India as "number 1" team came to England and were utterly thrashed. Ruthlessly. Where is India final frontier @g.narismha? if it is England - India were thrashed, if it is Australia - India have NEVER won there. Conclusion = even at their so-called "best", even as "number 1" India not very good. Please publish.

  • John on April 10, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    @g.narsimha on (April 09 2012, 10:19 AM GMT) The reason we celebrated it was because it brought us to the number 1 ranking. It could have been SA,Aus,NZ anyone. I really think you have a complex if you think that India are the envy of world cricket. They usually get mentioned by English fans on England threads when we constantly get a bombardment of facts and figures from yesteryears games which have absolutely no bearing on today's game.In fact as an honest Eng fan the poor performances in UAE/SL superseeds the 4-0 win vs India last year and I am now just worried about WI and SA. It's funny how we get less Australians going on about the way the beat us home and away for the best part of 20 years and I have never seen a WI fan going on about yesteryear on our threads.How should we respond to threads trying to stir things all the time. If you read my (most Eng fan's threads) during UAE/SL we're the 1st to recognize our faults in SC etc. So no need to keep making an issue of it.

  • Dummy4 on April 10, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    why kulasekara is not in test team he has better bowling average than others

  • narsimha on April 10, 2012, 3:54 GMT

    VALVAN- Agreed ENGLAND did achieve great success in recent years, in the era of fiarce compitition , elevation to no-1 potion is not a mean achieve ment , with this deserving win ur team just managed to hold on that position , the acid test is awaiting , u too have to face a few very string teams in sa, aus in home & final frontier in INDIA lets wait & see , it is not that we dont have bowlers ,if ZAHEER recovers , with YADAV, ARON ASOKDINDA, we too have good pace attack but the problem is selection , selectors obsesios with use less VINAY KUMAL ,OUT OF FORM PRAVINKUMAR are the major contributors for our humiliating defeats in eng, aus ,

  • John on April 10, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    @stormy16, I think that you'll find that yours is the childish comment. KP is not criticising SL the country or the cricket team. He's saying that it's really, really hot and sticky. Your the one who seems to be putting words in his mouth having taken it as his saying that England is better. When even the locals have to have ice packs on their heads during the drinks breaks, it's really hot. KP was actually being rather self-deprecating, saying that he wasn't equipped to play long innings in such conditions where his team mates Cook and Trott, known for their powers of concentration, probably are. Some people are always looking for an angle to criticise and play the victim though.

  • Mike on April 9, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    @ Stormy16. Don't be ridiculous it is far easier to warm up and not suffer in these 'cold' temps of probably at least 17c-20c by god we even get days in May where the temp is 25c ! Point is extreme heat and humidity is far harder to put up with than these so called cold conditions. Cold is Ice and Snow not England in May.

    The SL although they would be slightly troubled by it, would certainly not find it as hard to cope with than ridiculous heat and humidity. We would have to play SL in December for it to be 'cold'

  • John on April 9, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    @Spelele The simple fact is that the ICC's points table runs on either a 2 or 3 year rolling system so 2007 is totally irrelevant.Otherwise you might as well go back to when Aus or WI dominated or even before that.I don't have the 2007 figures to hand but I take your word for it that SA's stats were much better.I'm not doing the whole stats thing again but you say that over the last 2 years SA's stats trump Eng's and the only noteable win was India at home.What about Australia away and over the last 2 years how do wins over SL/ NZ (by smaller margins) trump Eng beating Aus/India? BTW we also beat SL at home same as you and also in last 2 years only we didn't lose a test at home to SL. Maybe you could also see how SA did last time they played a test series in SL if you want to balance it further.If I am wrong please pull me up.As said before I know SA have real quality in the team and expect a tough series. Our head to head record in tests over last 6 series with SA is dead level

  • John on April 9, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding on (April 08 2012, 16:17 PM GMT) Know what you're saying. I actually thought it was a decent dig at those who slate us for over relying on imports.

  • Dru on April 9, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    I see this become a Eng V SA V Ind issue! Firstly Eng dont need to win in India or anywhere to prove anything. They are the current number 1 end of story - its not like India had to win in Aus to be number 1. Good show by Eng to level the series but dissappointing series for to come away with a draw. I note KP reckons cricket in April in SL is a joke - I guess the same applies to cricket in Eng in May - the only time it seems SL play in Eng. SL have played a few times in Eng at the end of the Eng summer - check the records on these games. The point is one cant call playing in SL in the heat a joke and yet expect visiting teams to play in Eng in the freezing cold, beat them, and claim your good - that could also be a joke! Its these sort of childish comments which forces pressure on KP when the reality is he is a class act and a game changer and a bit a humility will go along way in this case.

  • Bob on April 9, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    @ Spelele... "SA is still ahead of England. Stop distorting stats please!"... The only stats that matter in the rankings, are those over the period covered by the rankings table..i.e. Since last August.. Now as I recall when I checked two minutes ago, England were top of that table. I'd like for you to do two things, tell us: 1) why do you state SA are ahead of England when the ICC table clearly shows otherwise. 2) produce the stats calculated in the same manner as the ICCs that leads you to this conclusion. Once you've failed to do 2), then you might admit that, much as you hope, wish or pray that it isn't so... ENGLAND ARE NUMBER ONE... Any other conclusion would be purely delusional...

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