England wins and levels the series
England won by 8 wickets against Sri Lanka in the second and final Test match of the Just Retirement Series at Colombo. England’s win had leveled the series 1-1 and grabbed their first win of the winter season. Andrew Strauss and his men remain on top of the ICC test ranking by sealing a victory against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka was 218/6 at stumps on Day 4 and was leading by 33 runs with Mahela Jayawardene (55) and Angelo Mathews (3) still at the crease. Jayawardene and Mathews tried to play defensively against English bowlers and put up a seventh wicket partnership of 23 runs. Sri Lanka lost 6 wickets by the end of Day 4 and had to put up some decent score on the board for England to chase.
Graeme Swann’s offbreak pitched outside off stump and bounced off Jayawardene’s (64) gloves into the hands of Alistair Cook in the middle of the pitch. Once again Swann provided England with the turning point to take away the game from Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka was 238/7 and had a lead of 53 runs when Jayawardene left the crease. Swann made sure that he got rid of Prasanna Jayawardene before he got comfortable at the crease and pose the similar threat he did at Galle in the second innings. Swann’s 6-106 became his 13th five wicket haul in an innings, as he grabbed his career best of 10 wicket haul in Test matches.
Mathews tried to play out the England’s bowling attack as he scored some vital runs on the board for Sri Lanka, as England’s target to chase. Mathews was dropped at two different opportunities (at 3 and at 12) and he posed some threat to England’s bowling attack- it was Steven Finn who wrapped things up for England by dismissing Mathews (46) who clobbered a delivery off of Finn straight into the hands of Strauss at midwicket. Sri Lanka was bowled out for 278 and setting a target of 94 runs for England to chase.
Tillakaratne Dilshan’s (1-43) dismissal of Strauss (0) but Cook and Jonathan Trott played sensibly to put up a second wicket partnership of 31 runs. Rangana Herath (1-37) got rid of Trott (5) giving some frail hope to Sri Lanka defending meager 94 runs target.
But Kevin Pietersen’s (42) and Cook’s (49) third wicket partnership of 66 runs took England towards their first victory of the season. Pietersen’s 151 runs in the first innings and 42 runs in the second innings made a world of difference to England’s victory.
England had learnt from their prior mistakes and improved their game remarkably in the second Test, unfortunately for Sri Lanka the batting line up did not provide the much needed support to seal the series and bowlers Suraj Randiv and Herath did not pose similar threat to the English batting line up as they did in Galle during the first test.
Jayawardene was the highest scoring batsmen in the Test series with his 354 runs in four innings. England simply dominated the second Test from Day 2 and allowed little room for Sri Lanka to improvise and come on top.
Mahela Jayawardene: "We knew it was going to be tough coming into the second match and we think we made quite a few mistakes. Against a team of this quality and with their fans, it was going to be tough. This has been the largest following for an English touring side, so it's been good, I've enjoyed it. We needed to pick up three or four wickets up front but Alastair played very well and KP finished it off. It's disappointing. But thank you, from Sri Lanka, and we'll see you again."
Andrew Strauss: "Yeah, absolutely, it was was amazing to have that support away from home. In the end it seemed like a comfortable victory but we had to work hard. Jimmy Anderson was superb on an unresponsive wicket, Graeme Swann was outstanding and Kevin Pietersen took the game away from them. At the top of the order it was all very stodgy, then Kevin came in and showed us how to play. It was good to get a few runs, I would like to have got more but winning the match was the most important thing. Still No. 1 for a while yet."
Man of the Match Kevin Pietersen: "Definitely, it's always nice to get some runs. It's been a tough winter for the batters but the hard work we've put in paid off, we deserve this one. The practice and hours you put in, when you're in some sort of nick you've got to try and get some runs ... and when it's 40-42, I can't block too many!"