Alastair Cook scored his third century in four Test innings, but England had to settle for a draw in the second match of their series against Sri Lanka at Lord’s on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka, set an imposing victory target of 343, finished on 127 for three with 15 overs left on the fifth and final day — the earliest the sides could agree a draw.
This result left England 1-0 up heading into the third and final Test at the Rose Bowl starting on June 16.
That match could see Sri Lanka without their captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, who had his thumb broken by fast bowler Chris Tremlett while making a man-of-the-match winning 193 in the tourists’ first innings at Lord’s.
“We thought we had a chance [of winning] if we took early wickets,” England captain Andrew Strauss said at the post-match presentation ceremony. “We needed something special to happen and it didn’t quite happen for us. It wasn’t the best Test match we have ever played, but we move onto the Rose Bowl and hopefully we can make it 2-0.”
The highest score ever made in the fourth innings to win a Test at Lord’s is 344 for one by the West Indies against England in 1984.
There was never a realistic chance of Sri Lanka reaching a similar target, with the more immediate question whether they could avoid losing all 10 wickets in the 58 overs left when their second innings started.
Sri Lanka had, after all, been routed for just 82 in under 25 overs in Cardiff as England won the first Test by an innings and 14 runs, but they held out with England frustrated as much by the 63 overs lost in the match to bad weather as by the tourists’ batting.
“I’m really happy I performed after Cardiff,” said Dilshan, whose innings surpassed Sidath Wettimuny’s 190 in 1984 as the highest individual score by a Sri Lanka player in a Lord’s Test. “I’m really enjoying the way I’m batting now.”
However, the opener’s joy was tempered by the prospect of missing the series finale.
“We have 10 days until the next Test. The doctors advise to rest for three to four weeks, but we’ll see how we go,” he said. “At the moment, I believe I’m going to miss the last Test, but we’ll see over the next couple of days.”
England’s hopes of a Cardiff repeat had been bolstered when former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara (12), opening in place of Dilshan, cut giant fast bowler Chris Tremlett to Eoin Morgan at backward-point.
Sangakkara may have a Test average of over 56, but his exit continued a poor run of scores in England, where his corresponding average is just above 26.
By contrast, Mahela Jayawardene’s previous two Tests at Lord’s had both yielded centuries, but he could only manage 25 on Tuesday before edging a Stuart Broad outswinger to fourth slip, where Kevin Pietersen held a sharp diving catch.
Occasional medium-pacer Jonathan Trott gave England renewed hope when he had durable opener Tharanga Paranavitana trapped leg before wicket for 44.
Sri Lanka were now 96 for three with 25 overs left, but an England attack missing injured Ashes star James Anderson could not manage to take another wicket, with Thilan Samaraweera 17 not out and Prasanna Jayawardene 12 not out at stumps.