Cricket

/ Match report

Powered by ESPNCricinfo
  • England v Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka cling on for dramatic draw

David Hopps | ESPNcricinfo
June 16, 2014
Stuart Broad made the first breakthrough of the final day © Getty Images
Enlarge

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

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Close