LONDON, (Reuters) – Number 11 Nuwan Pradeep survived five dramatic balls from Stuart Broad to help Sri Lanka avoid defeat after James Anderson ripped through the visitors to almost force an England win in the first test at Lord’s yesterday.
Pradeep negotiated the final five deliveries, including successfully reviewing an lbw decision on the penultimate ball and edging the last just short of slip, to seal the draw as Sri Lanka finished on 201 for nine ahead of the second and final test starting on Friday in Leeds.
“When you get so close and then you get the decision that wins you the test overturned, it’s hard to take, and that last nick,” England captain Alastair Cook told a news conference.
“But that’s what test match cricket is about, going all the way down to the wire, both sides leaving everything out there.”
Anderson had got rid of Mahela Jayawardene (18), Kumar Sangakkara (61) and Lahiru Thirimanne (2) in the space of 14 balls either side of tea, before returning with the new ball to remove captain and last recognised batman Angelo Mathews (18).
Cook had set Sri Lanka 390 to win in 90 overs after declaring England’s second innings on their overnight score of 267 for eight, although taking 10 wickets on a lifeless wicket was always going to be a tall order for his four-strong seam attack.
While they could not quite get the job done, the performance, which included centuries by Joe Root and Gary Ballance, will give hope to an England side looking to move on from the controversial end to Kevin Pietersen’s international career and the 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia.