Sri Lanka tail-ender Nuwan Pradeep survived the final five balls of the match as the tourists clung on for a thrilling draw with England in the first Test at Lord’s.
England, in their first Test since their 5-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia and with a new-look team including three debutants, thought they’d won when Stuart Broad had Pradeep given out lbw off the penultimate ball of the match.
But Pradeep reviewed Australian umpire Paul Reiffel’s decision and, with technology showing an inside edge, he was reprieved.
Sri Lanka, set 390 to win after England captain Alastair Cook declared before the start of Monday’s play, finished on 201 for nine.
The match was meandering towards a draw until England spearhead James Anderson struck either side of tea on the way to a remarkable return of four wickets for 25 runs in 19 overs, but it wasn’t quite enough to secure a stunning win.
Instead the result left the teams all-square ahead of Friday’s second and final Test of the series at Headingley.
“I can’t praise the lads enough,” said England captain Alastair Cook at the presentation ceremony.
“That was a flat wicket … we gave ourselves a chance and to come up short is frustrating.”
Cook declared on England’s overnight 267 for eight, which owed much to Gary Ballance’s 104 not out – the Zimbabwe-born batsman’s maiden Test century in only his second match at this level.
That left Sri Lanka needing to break the Lord’s record for a winning fourth-innings total in a Test of 344 for one, requiring 342, set by the West Indies against England in 1984, for victory.
It was a target they never looked like approaching in Monday’s final 90 overs.
But Cook said England’s slump to 121 for six on Sunday had delayed his declaration.
“When you’re setting up the game, we were trying to play positively and gave wickets away.
“Those four or five wickets yesterday (Sunday) cost us having half an hour at them last night.”
England’s Joe Root was named man-of-the-match in his comeback Test for a first-innings 200 not out – his maiden Test double century.