Though James Anderson beat the bat under cloudy skies during an impressive new ball spell, it was Stuart Broad who got the breakthrough, inducing Dimuth Karunaratne to pop one up to short leg where Sam Robson took a sharp chance. The opener was gone for 16, prompting Kumar Sangakkara to walk to the crease with thoughts of providing more work for the Lord’s Honours Board engraver.
Once they swayed and ducked the short ones, the batsmen had few difficulties in reaching 99 for 1 at lunch. Kaushal Silva had 44 of the 100 he was looking for and Sangakkara 10 fewer, cruising as he approached 200 runs in the match. Alastair Cook would have liked to have whistled up a spinner with 222 wickets, as Angelo Mathews could, but the 221-wicket gap between Rangana Herath and Moeen Ali did not matter too much on this strip.
It was business as usual after lunch, as England strove for wickets, rotating bowlers, setting attacking fields and trying the ersatz leg theory yet again. Silva had shown some signs of impatience and on 57, got the faintest of gloves to a short delivery from Chris Jordan and was given out on referral, the tiny glow on Hotspot enough to send him back through the Long Room. Mahela Jayawardene looked somewhat discomforted by the short ball, glancing the ball through the narrow gap between wicketkeeper and leg slip more frequently than his captain would approve. The old double act was split just before tea by Anderson snaring Jayawardene for 18, the last interval of the match coming with Sri Lanka 159 for 3 and the draw very much on the cards.
England emerged for a last hurrah with a funky field that hemmed in Sangakkara but anything was worth a try by that stage. And then the game changed. Anderson, hiding the ball as he began to find just enough reverse swing to ask questions, hit Sangakkara’s stumps off the inside edge, and in the same over, found Lahiru Thirimanne’s edge to get everyone talking about the Lanka’s 2011 collapse at Cardiff. Sangakkara had added 61, top-scoring in both Sri Lanka innings.
Angelo Mathews was suddenly at the crease needing to play well for the second time in the match. His partner, Prasanna Jayawardene survived an early review and he stood up to some hostile bowling, but was adjudged lbw on referral as Chris Jordan arrowed a reverse swinging yorker on to his toes, channeling the spirit of Waqar Younis as England caught the whiff of blood in the nostrils.
England, seeing a chance of victory for the first time since August last year, crowded the batsmen and bowled with real hostility. Broad got Nuwan Kulasekara, Anderson took Mathews’s edge and Broad did for Herath to give himself five balls at Pradeep, the No.11. It wasn’t quite enough and the draw – probably a fair result, as not many sides score 654 runs in a Test and lose – was recorded in the scorebook.
The quest for twenty wickets will resume at Headingley.