Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sri Lanka take Test series 1-0 with last-ball victory against England, Angelo Mathews shines with 160
24 June, 2014 - Sri Lanka had tried thrice but failed each time. When they toured England in 2014, the team had an opportunity to create history by winning their first-ever Test series (consisting of more than one match) in England.
The way the Test series started for the visitors, things did not look the brightest. The hosts posted 575 runs in the first innings on the back of an unbeaten double century from Joe Root. Almost by miracle, the team succeeded in holding onto the match as their last pair did not give up and the match ended in a draw.
In the second and the final Test of the series as well, only Kumar Sangakkara could score a half-century in the first innings as Sri Lanka were bowled out for just 257.
England established their ascendancy in the match by scoring 365 runs in the second innings with maiden Test century from opener Sam Robson and half-centuries from Gary Ballance and Ian Bell. Shaminda Eranga and Angelo Mathews were the leading bowlers for Sri Lanka, taking 4 wickets each.
The Sri Lankan batsmen took more responsibility in the second innings. Opener Dimuth Karunaratne battled away for his 45. With a 111-ball stay at the crease, he ensured that he took away the shine of the new ball.
Veterans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene then joined hands as both scored watchful half-centuries. But, the most impactful performance came from all-rounder Angelo Mathews who spent a marathon 309 minutes at the crease and scored at a fair clip, batting at a strike rate of 64.25.
His 160-run knock and a 149-run partnership with Rangana Herath changed the face of the game. Herath was not known for his batting and his scores in the previous 7 Test innings had been 3, 0, 6, 0, 0, 2 and 1, including three golden ducks.
But, somehow the spinner rose to the occasion and played a crucial role in turning the tide. Shaminda Eranga also contributed a bonus 20 runs as despite a 9-wicket match haul from Liam Plunkett, England were set a target of 350 runs in the last innings.
That clearly did not go as planned for England as they found themselves at 57/5 at the end of day 4. However, the solace for them was that their best batsman Joe Root and all-rounder Moeen Ali, who was playing only his second Test and looking quite good, were at the crease.
The two did not go after the total as expected and tried to play out the day. Rain came to their aid on the morning of day 5 as an early lunch was taken. After a snail-paced 67-run partnership, Root was dismissed by Nuwan Pradeep.
Although Matt Prior and Chris Jordan stayed at the crease for around 70 minutes each, Stuart Broad's dismissal for a duck meant that when last man James Anderson arrived at the crease to partner Ali, England still had more than 20 overs to negotiate.
Anderson did a great job of weathering the storm and saw off 54 deliveries without scoring. As the match moved into the last over of the day, the problem for England was that centurion Moeen Ali was at the non-striker's end.
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews made a bold move by replacing Rangana Herath with Eranga to bowl the last over. After surviving the the first four deliveries, the penultimate ball of the match was too quick and rose steeply for even a top-order batsman to handle, let alone a tail-ender.
Anderson fended at the delivery and was caught by Rangana Herath at backward square leg. The 100-run victory meant that Sri Lanka won their first multi-match Test series in England in the fourth attempt.
It glittered all the more as the island nation were successful in winning the ODIs and the only T20I on the tour as well, thus completing their most successful England tour ever.
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