England had victory taken out of their grasps after a decision by the third umpire on the penultimate delivery of the match overruled on-field decision maker Paul Reiffel as the first Test against Sri Lanka ended in a breath-taking draw.
Sri Lanka ended the fifth and final day on 201-9 as the tourist came perilously close to losing the opening Investec Test Match after Stuart Broad thought he had taken the two wickets England needed in the final over.
However, Steve Davis correctly judged Nuwan Prandeep had edged the ball onto his pads after Reiffel lifted his finger to give him out lbw which led to wild celebrations amongst the England players while Prandeep also edged the last ball of the game, this time the ball landed just short of Chris Jordan in the slips.
An England win looked like a tough ask half-way through the day but James Anderson ripped through the middle-order by taking four wickets to give the hosts a chance of winning their first Test Match since August 2013.
It was a dramatic end to a superb Test Match which means the two-Test series remains level leading into the ‘winner takes all’ match at Headingley which on Friday.
The game was set-up nicely after a double century in the first innings from Joe Root and a maiden Test hundred from Gary Ballance on the fourth day put England in position to win the game on a batting friendly wicket in London.
After the hosts were inserted to bat on the opening day Alastair Cook’s men eventually declared on 575-9 after Root hit his first double hundred on the international stage. Ian Bell in his 99th Test joined Matt Prior in hitting half centuries before Cook decided to test the Sri Lankan batting line-up.
The tourists impressed and it was a special innings for veteran Kumar Sangakkara who reached three figures for the first time in the five-day arena at Lord’s to put his name on the famous honours board. It was his 36th Test hundred which drew him level with Indian legend Rahul Dravid as Sri Lanka posted 453.
Cook’s men stuttered on their way to setting a target but the innings was held together superbly by Ballance before cutting loose on his way to 104* which set Angelo Mathews team a target of 390 after Cook declared overnight.
After the loss of Dimuth Karunaratne thanks to a catch from debutant Sam Robson off the bowling of Broad, Sri Lanka steadied the ship and went into lunch at 99/1.
A strong afternoon session only saw two scalps with Kaushal Silva falling to Jordan shortly after reaching his second 50 of the match while Mahela Jayawardene was caught behind off the bowling of Anderson.
The odds were heavily stacked towards a draw at the final tea break with England needing seven wickets while the visitors requiring 226 more runs to win which in truth was never a realistic target.
However, Anderson carried on his fine bowling after tea and snaffled Sangakkara for 61 followed by Lahiru Thirimanne for just two which meant the seamer had taken three wickets for just one run in 14 balls.
Runs were hard to come by in the evening session after Anderson rampaged through the middle-order by taking four wickets and it was a case of survival for the Mathews’ men.
England continued to strike at regular intervals and needed two wickets in the final over which was bowled by Broad. He had Rangana Herath caught behind by Prior with his first delivery as the spin bowler walked back to the pavilion despite replays showing his glove was off the bat when it struck.
That brought Prandeep to the crease and he survived the final five balls, largely thanks to his saviour Davis as Sri Lanka will be thanking technology en-route to Leeds tomorrow morning with the series still alive.
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