England v Sri Lanka: Tourists win Test Series…
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.
It also completed a clean sweep after victories in the Twenty20 and one-day series.
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.
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.