So near and yet so far — for England

ENGLAND CHAGRIN Pic by Ian Kington for AFP

Rex Clementine in the Island, 18 June 2014

Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews praised his tail-enders for the remarkable guts and fight showcased in the dying moments of the Lord’s Test to save the game. With new ball in hand, James Anderson and Stuart Broad were creating havoc and amidst all the drama, last man Nuwan Pradeep saw off the final five deliveries to help his side earn a hard fought draw.

In the first innings, Pradeep had been intimidated by some well-directed short pitched deliveries and he was out hit wicket after being struck on the shoulder by a vicious Chris Jordan bouncer. So when he walked in to face the music with still five deliveries left in the game, many wondered how he would fare. “When Herath was out, all Pradeep said to me was, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to hold on. If they bowl short at me I’m just going to leave it.’ That was very encouraging from the tail-ender. I actually thought he did that exact thing,” Mathews said after Sri Lanka’s great escape.

When play was stopped for tea at 163 for three with Kumar Sangakkara batting, many believed that there’s going to be an early handshake and a draw. But the dismissals of Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne in quick succession kept England interested and with the new ball due they went for the kill and Sri Lanka had to unearth all their resources in what turned out to be a rescue mission in the final hour.

Mathews led from the front batting for over two hours before falling with just 18 deliveries left in the game. “We batted poorly after tea. We were too relaxed. Their bowlers came and gave one last effort and we fell for that. I thought Anderson bowled really well. But it shouldn’t have got that close,” Mathews added.

“It was a great effort by Rangana Herath and Prasanna Jayawardene. Prasanna was batting with a broken finger. It was a good effort in the end,”

England celebrated after the penultimate delivery of the game as Pradeep had been ruled leg before wicket, but thankfully there was a review left for Sri Lanka and the batsman challenged the decision by umpire Paul Reiffel, who had a poor game.

“When you play in those situations, especially being a tail ender – it wasn’t the easiest time for him to go and bat, and to review it was also a brave effort. In that tense situation, your mind goes blank sometimes. It’s always good to review it and luckily we used it. You have to use your reviews wisely.”

“Pradeep was confident he had hit it. We were not, because we couldn’t see from behind. But he was pretty confident that he hit it, but thank God that he did.” In the first ball of the last over, Herath gloved a Broad bouncer to wicketkeeper Matt Prior and walked, but instead he should have stayed as his hand had come off the bat handle at the point of contact and Mathews admitted that lack of knowledge of the rules was to blame. “I guess he wasn’t aware of the rules. It’s a lesson learned. We all now know that if it hits your arm and it’s off the bat you’re not out.”


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