Sri Lankans 289 and 256 for 6d (Samaraweera 114) drew with British Universities 125 (Vaas 4-34) and 130 for 8 (Harrison 28*, Balcombe 14*)

Nuwan Zoysa toiled hard, but his side fell short by two wickets © Getty Images

A ninth-wicket stand of 38 from the British Universities denied Sri Lanka a likely victory on the final day of their opening match at Fenner's.

Having reduced the students to 92 for 8, Sri Lanka tried everything at their disposal to remove Paul Harrison and David Balcombe, but their resiliance saw the university home to safety. Under overcast skies, Sri Lanka ripped through the top-order - much as they did in the students' first innings - but were frustrated first by Damien Shirazi, and later by the two tailenders.

Shirazi, after watching three of his team-mates fall, set about blocking out the game: his 20 took 74 balls but, when he fell to Malinga Bandara, Sri Lanka held clear the advantage. However, needing seven wickets in the final session, they fell short as Harrison, who top-scored with 28, and Balcombe (14*) withstood the pressure with great resilience, and no less skill.

Earlier, Sri Lanka's batsmen set the university side an improbable 421 for victory, yet their batting was once again a mixed bag. Thilan Samaraweera, who in the first innings had batted with obduracy for his 36, played with greater fluency in his shot-filled 111. Resuming on his overnight 82, he brought up his hundred with a four past mid-off before retiring. Mahela Jaywardene, the Sri Lanka captain, resisted the temptation of a pre-lunch declaration, instead opting to give his batsmen much-needed time in the middle.

Aside from Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera played sensibly for his 49 - before falling to a cleverly-disguised change of pace from David Balcombe and Prasanna Jayawardene, the reserve wicketkeeper, also made an assured fifty. Declaring on 256 for 6 at lunch, the Sri Lankans could only snaffle three wickets in the afternoon session. And though Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa were aided by overcast, swing-friendly conditions, the student tailenders staved off defeat.