England v Sri Lanka: Tourists win Test series with one ball to spare
Second Test, Headingley (day five)
Sri Lanka 257 & 457 beat England 365 & 249 by 100 runs
England fell two balls short of a remarkable escape as Sri Lanka won the second Test to secure a 1-0 series victory.
Last man James Anderson was caught at leg gully off Shaminda Eranga from the penultimate ball of the final day at Headingley.
Anderson had survived for 20 overs in the company of Moeen Ali, who batted through the day for an unbeaten 108 off 281 balls, his maiden Test century.
But when Anderson failed to ride a bouncer, the ball looped to Rangana Herath to see England bowled out for 249 to lose by 100 runs.
Anderson, who was later in tears at the post-match presentation, slumped over his bat in disappointment, while Sri Lanka huddled on the pitch to celebrate their first series triumph in England, having won a one-off Test in 1998.
Test Match Special analysis
"Sri Lanka threw everything at that last over - it was almost a Bodyline strategy. It was a perfectly directed bouncer. Jimmy Anderson couldn't do anything else - his natural reactions just took over."
England captain Alastair Cook, out of form with the bat and criticised for his leadership during this campaign, insisted he had no intention of resigning despite the defeat, England's sixth in seven Tests.
The loss, in Peter Moores' first series since being reappointed as coach, comes before the five-Test rubber against India which begins on 9 July.
However, the spirit shown in this latest reverse at least saves some face for England following the surrender of an advantage that, at tea on the second day, looked impregnable.
A collapse of eight wickets for 87 runs, a masterful 160 from Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews and a fourth-evening slide saw England begin the fifth day 57-5 in pursuit of 350.
They began with Moeen - playing only his second Test - and Joe Root at the crease, the latter virtually shotless in defence as they survived to reach a rain-induced early lunch before Root offered a leading edge off Nuwan Pradeep to gully.
Soon after, Matt Prior fended Dhammika Prasad to short leg. Replays suggested Prasad was over the popping crease, but third umpire Paul Reiffel sided with the bowler to give him a first Test five-wicket haul.
England's home Test schedule
1st Test v Sri Lanka, Lord's: Match drawn
2nd Test v Sri Lanka, Headingley: Sri Lanka won by 100 runs
9 July: 1st Test v India, Trent Bridge
17 July: 2nd Test v India, Lord's
27 July: 3rd Test v India, Southampton
7 August: 4th Test v India, Old Trafford
15 August: 5th Test v India, The Oval
When Reiffel was faced with a similar decision after Chris Jordan edged Eranga to slip, he gave the benefit of doubt to the batsman, allowing the Sussex all-rounder to add 52 for the eighth wicket with Moeen.
But when he and Stuart Broad were trapped lbw by the left-arm spin of Herath, England looked beaten.
That was to discount Anderson, who first saw off the occasional off breaks of Mahela Jayawardene - employed because of poor light - before repelling the pace bowlers.
When Sri Lanka turned back to slow left-armer Herath, Anderson was surrounded by as many as six close catchers but, bar the occasional optimistic lbw appeal, was relatively untroubled.
At the other end, Moeen, cutting through the off side and clipping through the leg, was nearing his maiden hundred.
When he got there with a fine leg glance off Pradeep, there were still seven overs remaining but, by that time, the last-wicket pair had already survived for 13.
The balls and minutes ticked down, the cheers for each ball survived grew louder and Sri Lanka became increasingly edgy.
Moeen pushed back the penultimate over, leaving Anderson to face the final six balls, perhaps expecting them to be delivered by Herath.
Instead, seamer Eranga was thrown the ball and, although Anderson repelled the first four deliveries, the fifth was one step too far and England were beaten.
Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott analyse England's series defeat by Sri Lanka in the Test Match Special podcast.
CommentsJump to comments pagination
Comment number 557.Howie3
26th June 2014 - 14:55
Comment number 556.MrFishyFingers
26th June 2014 - 13:37
Comment number 555.Howie3
26th June 2014 - 13:10
Comment number 554.chrisf
26th June 2014 - 11:29
Comment number 553.Sportsfan1
26th June 2014 - 9:13