|Scorecard:||England v Sri Lanka|
|Player:||MM Ali, KTGD Prasad|
|Event:||Sri Lanka in Ireland and England 2014|
By Andy Jalil In association with INVESTEC
Leeds Sri Lanka completed an historic series victory beating England by 100 runs in the second Test despite a defiant, highly commendable, unbeaten innings of 108 from Moeen Ali whose maiden Test hundred, in only his second Test, spanned six and a half hours in his attempt to save the match.
It was the first series win for Sri Lanka in England and the third time they won a Test following their victory in the one-off Test in 1998 at The Oval and in Nottingham in the drawn series in 2006. England were finally dismissed for 249 with the penultimate ball of the match in a highly tense finish as James Anderson was dismissed after his superb effort over almost an hour and a half at the crease.
Resuming on a precarious overnight score of 57 for five and needing a further 293 to win, England had a monumental task to save the match let alone think to achieving a most unlikely victory. But their hopes rose high with the resistance that Joe Root and Moeen Ali put up. They defended solidly for an hour and a half until rain made its presence for the first time in this match.
Lunch was taken 30 minutes earlier than scheduled and with play resuming at 1.30pm local time, only 20 minutes were lost. With occupation of crease a priority, both batsmen continued in their defensive mode although Ali took every opportunity there was to pick up runs hitting fours when the ball was there for it.
The 50 of their stand was eventually reached from 161 balls. They batted together for over two hours before Sri Lanka were able to get a breakthrough. It came just under an hour in the second session with Root attempting to play the ball to leg as it swung away taking a thick outside edge which went into the hands of gully. The sixth wicket stand was 67 from 187 balls and Root had scored 31 from 108.
Prasad struck with the next wicket having Matt Prior caught at short leg. Ali meanwhile brought up his maiden Test half century from 168 balls. He got to 49 with his eighth four, off Rangana Herath, and then played the left arm spinner to mid-wicket to run a single.
Along with Chris Jordan, Ali featured in another time-consuming stand of 52 before his partner was trapped leg before wicket by Herath and England were 212 for eight. Ali still had Chris Broad, who has a Test century to his credit, that he could rely on but after holding out for half-an-hour without scoring too fell lbw to Herath and Anderson joined Ali for what was a remarkable partnership.
Ali had meanwhile progressed to 82 with a four to mid-wicket off Herath and a lofted drive to mid-on off the same bowler took him to 93. Eventually he got to the milestone glancing Pradeep to the fine leg boundary.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2 Andy Jalil)