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Sri Lanka clinches test series win in England

June 24, 2014

LEEDS, England (AP) — Shaminda Eranga ended Jimmy Anderson’s stubborn resistance with the penultimate ball Tuesday as Sri Lanka won the second test at Headingley by 100 runs to clinch its first ever test series win in England.

Anderson faced 55 balls without scoring in a desperate last-wicket stand with Moeen Ali (108 not out) before he fended an Eranga bouncer to Rangana Herath at leg gully, giving Sri Lanka a victory of 1-0 series victory with one delivery to spare.

The Sri Lanka players piled on each other in celebration, while Anderson slumped over his bat. He was in tears as he accepted England’s player of the series award.

England captain Alastair Cook, who posted scores of only 17 and 16 in the test, accepted that scrutiny over his captaincy would intensify while his own form and his team’s performances continue to drop.

“You’re there at the top of the order to score runs and when you haven’t done it for 12 test matches it becomes harder and harder,” Cook said. “No one has got a divine right to captain the side or play in the side if you’re not performing. If you do it for much longer, you won’t be asked to captain England. I never quit on anything, I am a determined bloke and I am determined to turn this around.”

England resumed the fifth and last day at 57-5, needed to bat through the day to avoid defeat.

The equation was helped by a rain-shortened morning session, when Sri Lanka didn’t take a wicket. But the momentum changed after lunch when Nuwan Pradeep removed Joe Root (31), when he edged to Lahiru Thirimanne at gully.

Dhammika Prasad then dismissed Matt Prior (10) with a bouncer played to Kaushal Silva at short-leg for his maiden five-wicket haul in a test. There was a review to check for a no-ball, and Prasad’s heel was judged to be fractionally behind the line. He finished with figures of 5-50.

Herath followed Prasad by striking twice, removing Chris Jordan (21) and Stuart Broad (0) lbw. Ali reached his maiden test century from 281 balls with a flick to fine leg for four off Pradeep. He batted all day for England, including a 20-over partnership with No. 11 Anderson.

“I’m obviously very gutted — 100 to save the game would have been fantastic,” Ali said. “It doesn’t mean as much with the guys being so disappointed.”

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, who scored a career-best 160 in his team’s second innings, was ecstatic to lead his lineup to its first series victory in England.

“It means everything ... we played some really good cricket,” Mathews said. “We kept trying, we did not lose our belief. England played some really good cricket — Moeen and Jimmy batted brilliantly. Our bowlers are quite inexperienced but they tried to hit their lines and lengths and were brilliant.”

The result means England drops to fifth in the test rankings, below India. Sri Lanka is sixth. The England squad next hosts India in a five-test series.

The defeat came in the first test series for England under new coach Peter Moores, who replaced Andy Flower following England’s humiliating 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia.

Moores said England’s first-innings collapse from 311-3 to 365 all out proved costly, as it had a chance to build a more substantial lead than 108 over Sri Lanka.

“There are some tough lessons in that game for us,” Moores said. “We got ourselves in a great position but we didn’t drive that home. There has got to be a ruthless nature to how you play your cricket at this level.”

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