Sri Lanka beat England with just one ball to spare to win the second Test at Headingley by 100 runs on Tuesday and so take the two-match series 1-0. There were more than 20 overs remaining when England No 11 James Anderson came into bat but he survived for 55 balls on nought until, off the penultimate delivery of the match, he gloved paceman Shaminda Eranga to Rangana Herath at leg gully.
Anderson had defied Australia’s attack for 55 balls when England clung on for a draw with one wicket standing in the 2009 Ashes Test in Cardiff and so nearly did the same on this occasion.
Defeat was tough on England’s Moeen Ali who batted for six-and-a-half hours while making 108 not out — his maiden Test century.
England, set 350 for victory, were bowled out for 249 on the fifth and final day as Sri Lanka won a Test on English soil for only the third time in their history following victories at The Oval in 1998 and Trent Bridge in 2006.
Steadying the ship
England resumed Tuesday on 57 for five, having collapsed in the face of paceman Dhammika Prasad’s dramatic burst of four wickets for 15 runs on Monday. It was all a far cry from when England were 311 for three after tea on the second day of this Test, thanks to Australia-born opener Sam Robson’s maiden Test century, and even when they reduced Sri Lanka to 277 for seven on Monday — a lead of just 169.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, the man-of-the-match, responded with a superb Test-best 160 and a key eighth-wicket stand of 149 with Herath, who made a valuable 48. Mathews’s hundred, his second of the series, followed his Test-bowling return of four for 44 earlier in this match.
Joe Root was six not out overnight, with Ali yet to come in. The pair kept Sri Lanka at bay for more than two hours Tuesday.
Pradeep made the breakthrough when Root was caught in the gully by Lahiru Thirimanne for 31. Prasad, whose final figures of five for 50 were his best in Test cricket, struck again to remove Matt Prior. At tea, England were 173 for seven, needing to negotiate 40 more overs — with the new ball on the horizon.
Chris Jordan, reprieved off a no-ball review given in England’s favour on 12, then fell lbw to left-arm spinner Herath for 21 to leave England 212 for eight.
Stuart Broad hung around for 24 balls before he too was lbw to Herath for nought to leave England on the brink of defeat at 228 for nine.
Anderson though refused to yield while an unflustered Ali went to a 259-ball century. Despite the heroics, Ali could only watch as Eranga, with the penultimate ball of the match, took his only continued…