Last-gasp Sri Lanka triumph denies Moeen

By Rob Barnett

Moeen Ali’s valiant maiden international ton was in vain as Sri Lanka won their first Test series in England with a nail-biting victory, dramatically secured from the penultimate ball at Headingley.

For the second time in two Tests, after the hosts had failed to take the final Sri Lanka wicket at Lord’s eight days ago, the action went down to the wire.

Today Moeen and last man James Anderson joined forces with more than 20 overs to go and, after the former brought up his milestone, they were separated at 7.07pm by Shaminda Eranga.

Anderson, who played a key role in the last-wicket Ashes escape at Cardiff in 2009, withstood the tourists’ bowlers for 55 deliveries until fencing a bouncer to square-leg as the margin of victory was 100 runs.

Moeen’s monumental innings deserved better, but it could not prevent a 1-0 series loss as Sri Lanka prevailed in all formats on this tour and England slipped to fifth in the Test rankings.

The elegant left-hander batted all day to bring Alastair Cook’s side within a whisker of saving a game that they looked to have surrendered yesterday.

Even though victory was beyond England, Moeen Ali continues to put away the bad ball as he patiently closed in on three figures

Moeen began his innings at the start of play, batting at seven after nightwatchman Liam Plunkett was last out yesterday, with England needing a theoretical 293 more to win.

Playing just his fourth format innings, he resisted constant pressure from the tourists to be unbeaten on 108 from 281 balls, featuring 17 fours.

The Worcestershire all-rounder shared fifty partnerships with Joe Root and Chris Jordan to frustrate Sri Lanka, who had England 57 for five overnight.

The stand with Root, either side of an 80-minute lunchtime rain delay that cost no overs, particularly got under the skin of touring captain Angelo Mathews who was spoken to by the umpires about sledging Root.

Having survived a short-pitched barrage, notably from Eranga, Root was held at gully from a full Nuwan Pradeep ball for 31, but Moeen went on to his half-century and survived an lbw review from Rangana Herath during an elongated afternoon session.

The 26-year-old held firm as Matt Prior fell to Dhammika Prasad, who therefore completed a five-wicket haul after blowing away the top order last evening.

Moeen goes to console James Anderson after the last man was held at square-leg from the penultimate delivery of the series

Herath trapped Jordan and Stuart Broad in front after tea, the former for 21 and Broad for a 24-ball duck, with the second new ball. Jordan had been given a life on 12 by Eranga’s front-foot no-ball but eventually went despite a review.

Moeen had survived a second review, on 71, for caught behind down leg off Eranga when the ball missed his bat but brushed his leg on the way to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal.

Although victory was no longer a prospect, when the chance came he continued to go for his shots, striking Herath over mid-on for a one-bounce four to move into the 90s. Sri Lanka then used their last review on Herath’s ambitious leg-before shout against Anderson.

Variable light dictated when Sri Lanka could bowl their seamers or had to use spin. However, the sun returned, allowing Mathews to choose any of his attack.

Moeen, who was content to play for the team as he sat in the 90s for almost 10 overs, glanced Pradeep to the fine-leg boundary for his hundred.

Mathews, man of the match for his Test-turning 160, was shuffling the pack in the last hour and, with Moeen only able to watch, it was Eranga that had the last word.

Match Scorecard Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Post-Match Presentation

7.25pm – Touring skipper Angelo Mathews is man of the match and Sri Lanks’a player of the series. James Anderson is England’s man of the series.

An emotional Anderson said: “We got quite close.

“They’ve been tough pitches for us. We’ve tried our hearts out this series.”

England captain Alastair Cook said: “Moeen played an outstanding innings for a guy playing in his second Test like that. It bodes incredibly well for the future. Credit to Sri Lanka for the way they kept going today. They won the crucial moments.

“For eight days out of this series we’ve probably had the better of the days, but we haven’t been able to push home our advantage at crucial times.”

Of Sri Lanka’s first Test series win in England, Mathews said: “It means everything to be honest. People don’t expect that of us in England.

“We kept trying. We didn’t lose our belief. Until the last ball the game isn’t over.

“They pushed and played some really good cricket. Moeen batted brilliantly and Jimmy batted brilliantly.”

On veterans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who may not play in England again, he added: “They are two of the best cricketers I’ve ever seen and two you want to have in the team. It’s a great send-off for them.”

Evening Session

7.07pm – SRI LANKA WIN BY 100 RUNS TO TAKE THE SERIES 1-0!! WICKET! Anderson c Herath b Eranga 0; England 249 all out; Moeen 108 – Despair for Anderson who, from the penultimate ball, chips a vicious bouncer to square-leg where Herath holds a simple chance. Anderson survived for 55 deliveries for his duck. Spare a thought for Moeen, who batted all day for his maiden Test ton.

7.06pm – Anderson fends the next to point and then unfurls a textbook forward defence.

7.05pm – It’s Eranga to bowl. Anderson plays back to the first ball and guides the second safely to gully.

7.03pm – It’s back to Prasad, whose second ball is a bouncer to Moeen that is wided. Moeen plays out the rest of the over. One to go with Anderson on strike.

6.56pm – Herath turns one back into Anderson’s back leg but his lbw shout is declined with the ball striking the left-hander outside the line. Sri Lanka don’t have a review left. Two overs to go now.

6.52pm – Mathews brings himself on and Moeen repels him. Anderson will face with three overs remaining. England have drawn 0-0 with Costa Rica!

6.48pm – Moeen plays out most of Herath’s latest set of six and has the strike for the next. Four to go.

6.45pm – Anderson holds Eranga at bay. It’s down to five overs.

6.37pm – CENTURY! Moeen (259b 16×4 0x6) – Moeen nudges Pradeep to the fine-leg boundary to herald a monumental maiden Test hundred! He enjoys a rousing ovation from the crowd but quickly re-focuses on the job in hand. He gets four more through gully later in the over, after which there are six still left.

6.35pm – Herath switches ends and Moeen takes a single to deep midwicket, ushering him to 97. Anderson plays out the over. Seven remain.

6.28pm – Moeen, apparently unworried about being so close to a maiden Test ton, sees off a runless Prasad set of six. Nine overs to go. Anderson then survives an Eranga maiden. It’s still goalless in the football with 15 minutes to go, by the way!

6.20pm – Prasad sends down a maiden to Moeen, now on 96. Eleven overs are left. Anderson, part of England’s last-wicket Ashes escape at Cardiff in 2009, fends off the next from Herath.

6.13pm – Moeen, who has 95, and Anderson negotiate an Eranga over. There are 13 remaining. The last-wicket duo then survive one from Herath.

6.02pm – The rain has stopped and it’s light enough for pace again. Eranga replaces Jayawardene and starts with a maiden to Moeen. There are a minimum of 15 overs to go. It’s seam from both ends as Anderson survives a runless over from Prasad.

5.57pm – REVIEW! With very light rain falling, Moeen strikes Herath aerially down the ground for a one-bounce four to move into the 90s. Later in the over Anderson pads up and is given not-out for lbw. Sri Lanka have another look but it was comfortably missing off stump. The tourists have no reviews left, while England have one.

5.51pm – Moeen plays out a maiden to Jayawardene and Anderson a runless over to Herath, who has fielders all round the bat. There are 18 overs left. It seems two spinners are operating because it’s too gloomy for seamers.

5.44pm – WICKET! Broad lbw Herath 0; Eng 228/9 – The left-hander plays forward and is trapped in front. He opts not to review, correctly as it happens, and is on his way. Last pair Moeen and James Anderson will have a review if they need it.

5.42pm – Mathews goes with spin at both ends. After Jayawardene and Herath each bowl a maiden, Moeen pulls a short ball from the former over midwicket for four.

5.34pm – The umpires get their light metres out during the drinks break but play is set to continue once Broad is back from a comfort break. Was he checking the football score? (nil-nil, by the way).

5.20pm – With Stuart Broad for company, Moeen elegantly punches Prasad for four off the back foot. In Prasad’s next over Moeen flicks four more to leg, moving into the 80s, and takes one from the last ball to maintain the strike when another run was on offer.

5.13pm – REVEW & WICKET! Jordan lbw Herath 21; Eng 212/8 – Herath is given the new-ish ball and with his second delivery traps Jordan in front. Jordan reviews but the ball was heading for middle and leg. What a crucial breakthrough for Sri Lanka!

5.03pm – Pradeep gets one to explode through the surface. It flies past Jordan’s bat and over the cordon for four byes. The batsman then brings up a valuable fifty partnership. At the end of the over 30 are left.

4.59pm – REVIEW! Eranga appeals for caught behind against Moeen, on 71, down leg. It’s given not-out but Sri Lanka question the call. Replays and Hot-Spot show the ball brushed the left-hander’s leg rather than his bat.

4.51pm – Nuwan Pradeep and Eranga continue to keep it tight while Moeen and Jordan continue to resist. There are 33 overs left today, although fading light could mean fewer. Moeen and Jordan each pick up a leg-side four.

4.39pm – NO-BALL & NO WICKET! Shaminda Eranga shares the new ball and, after conceding four byes, thinks he has Jordan held at slip. However, the umpire wants to see if it was a front-foot no-ball and, unlike for Matt Prior’s wicket, it is this time, so Jordan survives on 12.

4.31pm – Jayawardene sends down another over before the new ball is taken at the earliest opportunity. Dhammika Prasad gets first use and Moeen thick-edges him safely for four.

4.22pm – Angelo Mathews goes with a surprise choice of bowler to start the session as occasional spinner Mahela Jayawardene turns his arm over in a Test for the first time in three years. Moeen Ali cuts the last ball of his over to the rope. Sri Lanka’s main spinner Rangana Herath then delivers a maiden to Chris Jordan. A new ball is due in one over.

Afternoon Session

4pm – TEA! England 173/7; Moeen 56, Jordan 9 – With fielders crowding the bat, Herath delivers the last over of an elongated session. There are 40 overs left. England theoretically need 177 more to win, but will realistically be batting for a draw.

3.52pm – Jordan sweeps Herath to the rope. Regarding Prior’s dismissal, match referee Andy Pycroft confirms that the bowler gets the benefit of doubt over a front-foot no-ball.

3.44pm – Herath beats new man Chris Jordan with a beauty during his 10th maiden. Don’t forget tea is due to be at 4pm because of the earlier rain delay.

3.38pm – WICKET! Prior c Silva b Prasad 10; SL 160/7 – Dhammika Prasad digs one in at Prior, who cannot help but steer the ball to short-leg where Kaushal Silva holds a sharp catch. The umpire asks to check for a front-foot no-ball. Replays show it’s touch and go, but TV umpire Paul Reiffel upholds the decision. Prasad have a five-for!

3.28pm – REVIEW! Herath appeals vociferously for lbw against Mooen, on 52, but has his appeal rejected. Sri Lanka ask for another look but the ball was sliding down leg. Had the batsman got an inside edge, he would have been out caught at leg-slip. At the end of a maiden, 46 more overs are due to be bowled today. England need 190 more runs.

3.13pm – Eranga and Herath are bowling in tandem again, each delivering a maiden to keep the pressure on Moeen and Matt Prior.

3.05pm – FIFTY! Moeen (129b 8×4 0x6) – The left-hander works Herath to leg for a single, raising a maiden Test half-century in just his fourth innings.

2.57pm – Moeen advances to Herath, who has switched ends, and firmly hits four over mid-on, taking him to 49 and leaving 200 needed for victory.

2.47pm – Moeen gets a thick outside edge for four through backward point, moving him to 43, during a Pradeep over that contains three no-balls.

2.37pm – At the end of a Pradeep maiden, Moeen inside-edges just short of wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal. That cannot quite be considered a chance. Moeen then off-drives Herath for four.

2.27pm – WICKET! Root c Thirimanne b Pradeep 31; Eng 124/6 – Sri Lanka have their man, but with a full ball! The right-hander edges to gully where Lahiru Thirimanne holds on well, low down. England need 226 more runs to win, although they will surely settle for a draw, and the tourists want four wickets.

2.20pm – Mathews makes a double bowling change as Rangana Herath and Nuwan Pradeep come on. Root flicks the latter to leg for his first boundary of the day. He does not have to wait long for another, square-driving Herath for four in the next over. Root then whips Pradeep to the midwicket rope, moving to 31.

2.10pm – Root clips Mathews off his hips for two, raising a resilient fifty partnership with Moeen that is keeping England, who are into three figures, in the game.

2.05pm – Eranga continues to pepper Root with short balls. The right-hander, who has 16 from 86 deliveries, is resisting admirably. Moeen then swivel-pulls for four.

1.53pm – Eranga and Mathews put together consecutive maidens, after which Root ducks into an Eranga bouncer and is hit flush on the helmet although the batsman looks in no pain. Mathews is then spoken to by both umpires about his sledging. Root takes a blow to the body from Eranga and gets four leg-byes to fine-leg.

1.42pm – Moeen Ali sweetly punches Mathews through extra-cover for the first boundary since the resumption. While standing at slip during Eranga’s over Mathews has plenty to say to Root.

1.29pm – Play resumes with Angelo Mathews bowling a maiden to Joe Root. No overs have been lost despite the delay. Shaminda Eranga continues at the other end.

Morning Session

12.52pm – The rain has stopped and the outer covers are starting to be taken off. Signs are hopeful for a resumption immediately following the 40-minute lunch interval or soon after.

12.21pm – The wicket and surrounding areas are protected with more covers coming on. This looks like a passing shower though. The umpires are standing nearby.

12.11pm – RAIN! We’re going off with England 83 for five. Following an Eranga maiden to Moeen, the umpires confer and signal for the covers to come on.

12.05pm – It’s raining now, albeit lightly! Umbrellas are going up in the crowd but the players are staying on. Angelo Mathews takes over from Herath.

12pm – Root and Moeen bat through the first hour, which ends with the hosts 82 for five, requiring another 268 to pull off a stunning chase.

11.52am – Shaminda Eranga replaces Prasad but is initially no more threatening than his fellow seamer this morning. What is threatening, however, is a dark cloud coming towards the ground. Apparently it’s raining nearby. Could we have a delay soon?

11.37am – Herath and Prasad consecutively bowl a maiden each. England are 75 for five, needing another 275 to win.

11.21am – Prasad is testing Moeen outside off stump, but the left-hander responds with two fours in an over – a back-foot drive through gully and a front-foot drive through point. After another tight Herath over, Mooen beautifully straight-drives Prasad for four more.

11.09am – Sri Lanka immediately put pressure on England as Herath continues. Joe Root sets off for a single to leg but changes his mind and has to dive to make his ground.

11.01am – Spinner Rangana Herath starts the day with the last four balls of the over that saw nightwatchman Liam Plunkett become England’s fifth wicket yesterday. Dhammika Prasad, who made the first four breakthroughs, bowls from the other end, beating Moeen Ali on the drive.

Pre-Play News

10.50am – Ian Bell, playing in his 100th Test, gave a candid assessment of England’s day-four display. See what he had to say here.

10.40am – Angelo Mathews’ magnificent 160, his highest international score, dominated yesterday’s play, setting the scene for Dhammika Prasad to blow away England’s top order with four quick wickets. Here’s our report of day four and here’s the day in pictures.

10.30am – Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the last day of this Investec Series. England are up against it, needing 293 more to win with five wickets left after Sri Lanka reduced them to 57 for five at the close yesterday.

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