England retained their spot as the top Test team in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings, after drawing their series against Sri Lanka 1-1.
After losing the first Test, England, needed to win the second one in order to hold on to their top spot, and did so in convincing fashion, beating Sri Lanka by eight wickets.
England captain, Andrew Strauss, was ecstatic to hold on to the top spot, and said: “Winning the match was the most important thing. Still No. 1 for a while yet.”
Sri Lanka won the toss, much to the delight of their home fans, and decided to bat on a pitch which looked to be a batsman’s dream, even though there was an even covering of grass.
As the England players huddled in the middle of the ground to discuss their game plan, the Sri Lankan opening batsmen, Lahiru Thirimanne and Tillakaratne Dilshan, made their way out to the crease.
The Colombo crowd roared as the first ball was bowled, as it signified the first time these two nations had faced each other in this ground in thirty years.
Sri Lanka, looked to be making a solid start to the match, as the opening pair of Thirimanne and Dilshan took advantage of some lackluster bowling.
However, after posting 21 runs on the board, England struck with the prize wicket of Dilshan, who was caught behind on 14 from a brilliant delivery by England pace bowler James Anderson.
Sri Lanka were dealt another major blow the very next delivery, as Kumar Sangakkara edged one in the slips, where Andrew Strauss nearly spilled the catch at first, but, caught it one-handed on the rebound.
Just nine runs later, Thirimanne, was given out lbw, and even after referring the decision, had to continue his long walk back to the pavilion, leaving Sri Lanka in big trouble at 30 for three.
Thilan Samaraweera and captain, Mahela Jayawardene, steadied the Sri Lankan innings with some sensible batting, as they looked to work the ball into the gaps and keep rotating the strike.
The pair worked well together and brought up the fifty partnership in good time, but, were nowhere near done with the punishment they were dishing out on the England bowling attack.
Jayawardene and Samaraweera, became more and more confident, and their stroke play backed it up, as they were timing the ball to perfection, leaving the England players looking in awe as the poorer deliveries were absolutely dispatched to the boundary.
The pair, soon brought up the hundred partnership, which was a big relief for the players in the dressing room and the fans, since Sri Lanka looked to be struggling early into their innings.
Samaraweera and Jayawardene both posted their half centuries, which was warmly appreciated by everyone in the ground.
The pair continued to pile on the runs, but, once the partnership stood at 124, Samaraweera, got a full and straight delivery from Tim Bresnan, which completely fooled him, and he was trapped lbw in front of the stumps for 54 runs.
Angelo Matthews, who had just recovered from a calf injury he sustained in the Asia Cup, joined the Sri Lanka captain at the crease, and together, they continued where Jayawardene and Samaraweera had left off.
The pair slowly and steadily worked their way to a fifty partnership, and at the rate they were going, the chances of converting it into a century were looking good.
Jayawardene, brought up his 31st Test century, which brought a massive roar from the crowd, and even the England players were applauding the excellent innings that the captain had played.
However, disaster struck soon after, when Jayawardene was given out lbw, which he reviewed straight away, thinking it was too high, but, the third umpire did not share his view, ending his outstanding innings on 105.
Eleven runs later, Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene was on his way back to the pavilion, after edging a peach of a delivery from Steven Finn to England keeper, Matt Prior.
Matthews, was joined by Suraj Randiv, and together they put together a nice little partnership of 31 runs, during which Matthews brought up a well-played half century.
However, Randiv, was the next batsman to fall, as he tried to loft a delivery over the mid-on region, but, instead ended up chipping one straight to Kevin Pietersen.
Matthews, was dismissed just three runs later, after trying to crack one over the top of the on side region, but, found captain Strauss waiting at short midwicket, and he easily completed the catch with no problems this time, bringing an end to Matthew’s innings on 57.
Tim Bresnan was the England bowler who provided the next breakthrough, as Rangana Herath edged one to Prior, after failing to provide any foot movement to the shot he was trying to execute.
Thirteen deliveries later, the Sri Lanka innings came to an end on 275, when Suranga Lakmal, was cleaned bowled between bat and pad by Graeme Swann.
Spinner Graeme Swann, was the best bowler, as he claimed four wickets, but, he was well backed up by James Anderson, who took three, while Tim Bresnan picked up two, and Steven Finn, chipped in with one.
With Sri Lanka making 275 in their first innings, England, were looking to surpass that total and give Sri Lanka a hard time when they came to bat again in their second innings.
Openers, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, got England off to an excellent start, as they called for runs efficiently and smashed boundaries off the shorter pitched deliveries.
They soon brought up their fifty partnership, which put a worried look on Jayawardne’s face.
However, the pair, were not done yet, as they continued to work the ball into the gaps and challenge the Sri Lankan fielders.
The hundred partnership soon came up as well, and the pair looked to be unstoppable.
Strauss and Cook, were just helping themselves to runs and boundaries, which really started to infuriate Jayawardene.
Things got from bad to worse for Jayawardene, as both Strauss and Cook, brought up their half centuries, which proved to be an important part for England’s cause of setting up a massive first innings total.
However, with the partnership at 122 runs, Strauss, was dismissed, after attempting a cut shot off the bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan, which was edged behind to Prasanna Jayawardene, ending his innings at 61.
If Sri Lanka thought that by finally breaking the first wicket partnership they had gained the momentum back in their favour, they were hugely mistaken, since Jonathan Trott and Cook, continued the England onslaught.
The pair worked well together as they brought up a half century partnership in good time, increasing the signs of desperation for a wicket from the Sri Lankan players.
Trott, dominated the partnership, as he quickly brought up his own half century, while created added more tension into the mind of Jayawardene.
As Cook and Trott continued to work towards establishing another hundred partnership, Mahela Jayawardene, tried to mix up his bowling attack to confuse the batsmen.
To Jayawardene’s absolute delight, it worked before Trott and Cook could post up another hundred partnership, as Cook, was the second victim of Dilshan’s bowling, when he edged one straight to the captain himself at first slip.
Cook, had fallen just six agonising runs short of his century, while the partnership he had put together with Trott, had also fallen nine runs short of reaching the hundred mark.
Kevin Pietersen was the new batsman to join Trott at the crease, but, this time, England would only register a 40 run partnership, before Trott was caught at first slip when bowled a delivery with extra bounce by Rangana Herath, ending his innings on 64.
Pietersen, then started to catch fire, as he dominated the 94 run partnership he put together with Ian Bell, making his century during the partnership, which was a good sign that the South African-born batsman was back in top form.
The partnership, was ended on 94, after Bell, who had been kept under constant pressure by the Sri Lankan bowlers, was out after being caught at midwicket on 18.
Thirty three runs later, it was wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who was on his way back to the pavilion, after he caught brilliantly by Dhammika Prasad at long-off.
Pietersen scored another 24 runs in the 31 run partnership he and Samit Patel put together, during which he brought up his 150.
However, Pietersen, was the next batsman to fall, as he tried to paddle sweep a delivery from Rangana Herath, but, was given out, even after trying to review the umpire’s original decision.
Pietersen’s 151 runs gained him the Man of the Match award, and he said: “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!”
Eight runs later, Tim Bresnan, was clean bowled from a delivery that skidded off the pitch.
Graeme Swann and Patel, worked well together to put together a valuable partnership of 35 runs, before Swann, became the next victim of Herath, after he hit a full toss straight down the throat of extra-cover.
James Anderson was dismissed just ten deliveries later, when he was given out lbw off the bowling of Herath once again.
Suraj Randiv, wrapped up the England innings on 460, after Patel hit a delivery straight into the hands of deep midwicket, ending his resistance on 29.
Herath was the star of the Sri Lankan bowling lineup, as he took six wickets, while Dilshan picked up two, and Dhammika Prasad and Randiv, both chipped in with one each.
Trailing by a large margin of 185, Sri Lankan openers, Dhammika Prasad and Lahiru Thrimanne had some work to do if they wanted to have any chance of beating England.
However, after scoring 23 runs between them, Thirimanne was dismissed, after edging a delivery straight to Andrew Strauss at first slip.
Prasad and Dilshan, looked to steady the Sri Lankan innings, but, after making a good partnership of 41, Prasad was dismissed when he pulled a delivery straight to Tim Bresnan.
Fourty runs later, Dilshan was back on his way to the pavilion, after he was caught in the slips by James Anderson, however, the decision was reviewed after Dilshan thought the catch had not been taken cleanly, and even the third umpire took a while to watch it from every angle, before agreeing with the original decision.
Kangakkara was the next batsman to depart, when he was caught behind, after adding 21 runs to the Sri Lankan total with captain, Mahela Jayawardene.
It was Thilan Samaraweera and Jayawardene who saved Sri Lanka again, with an excellent 90 run partnership, which was scored in good time.
The pair, knocked the ball into the gaps and took advantage of the poorer length deliveries by smashing them to the boundary.
Jayawardene, also scored another half century during the partnership, effectively establishing to the cricketing world that he was in blazing form.
However, after scoring 90 runs between them, Samaraweera, was cleaned bowled by Graeme Swann, when the ball clipped his leg stump, leaving him three runs short of what would have been an excellent half century.
Two balls later, Suraj Randiv, was also cleaned bowled by a peach of a delivery from Swann.
Jayawardene’s outstanding innings came to an end on 64, as he brilliantly caught at short leg by Alastair Cook.
Four runs later, Prasanna Jayawardene was dismissed, after he was comprehensively bowled by Graeme Swann.
Samit Patel, provided the next breakthrough for England, as nine runs later, Rangana Herath, was caught by James Anderson.
Angelo Matthews, provided a late flourish for Sri Lanka, before he too was dismissed, after lobbing a delivery straight to Andrew Strauss at midwicket, falling four runs short of his half century.
Graeme Swann, took six wickets for England, while Steven Finn had two, and James Anderson, along with Samit Patel, took one each.
Needing just 94 runs to win the second Test match, England, got off to a horrible start, as captain Andrew Strauss, had his off stump pegged back by Tillakaratne Dilshan for a duck.
Thirty one runs later, Jonathan Trott joined Strauss back in the dressing room, when he given out after Sri Lanka called for a review on an lbw decision that had originally been given not out, but, was overturned by the third umpire.
Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook, wasted nio time in getting England home, as they smashed the Sri Lankan bowlers all over the ground.
Pietersen, dominated the 66 run winning partnership, scoring 42 runs, as he and Cook ensured that England would not be overtaken by South Africa as the top Test team in the world.
Cook, remained undefeated on 49 and Pietersen had made 42 from 28 deliveries, which included four boundaries and two massive sixes.
Pietersen, ended the match in style, as he smacked a massive six, to give England an eight wicket win, which sparked a huge celebration, while the Sri Lankans looked on in total despair.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Rangana Herath were the only two bowlers to take a wicket each in England’s successful chase.
Sri Lankan captain, Mahela Jayawardene, who was given the Man of the Series award for scoring 354 runs, at an average of 88.50, was disappointed with the loss, and said: “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.”
England captain, Andrew Strauss, was pleased with the all-round performance of his team, and said: “Yeah, absolutely, it 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.”
With England sealing a 1-1 draw against Sri Lanka, both teams can now rest up during the IPL period, before returning to the grind of the international schedule.