Headingley, the scene of Sri Lanka’s historic series-clinching win in 2014, presented another facet of its personality with plays-and-misses becoming the norm over authoritative shots. In yet another sorry batting performance in the match, Sri Lanka’s inexperienced batsmen poked and plodded, twisted and turned in the crease and found close-in catchers with surprising regularity. In helpful conditions, England’s pace trio of Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn ran amok handing the sub-continent visitors a harsh lesson in batting in trying conditions.
Sri Lanka, made to follow on, were facing a daunting enough prospect of avoiding an innings defeat at the start of the third day’s play even without having to contend with a thick cloud cover over Headingley. The chilly, overcast conditions at Leeds, at the onset of the English summer, were unsual even for the locals, let alone for the usually sun-baked Sri Lankans. It was a daunting prospect to survive even the 40-odd overs that former skipper Michael Vaughan thought England needed to wrap the game up. Sri Lanka hung around for 35.3, largely due to a gutsy, at times chancy, half-century by Kusal Mendis.
Operating with four slips and a gully, it was only a matter of time before Anderson struck. He did so with a near-unplayable delivery that bounced, swung and took Dimuth Karunaratne’s bat handle on its way to the wicket-keeper. Another classical outswinger consumed Kaushal Silva and the visitors had both openers back in the hut.
Despite their bowling pedigree, England didn’t have it all going their way in the opening session. While Anderson had the batsmen on a leash with his probing off-stump line, Broad and Finn didn’t test the Sri Lankan batsmen’s indecisiveness against the length delivery. To his credit, Mendis was quick to latch onto the slightly fuller lines bowled by Finn and rocked back admirably when Broad went short. On the odd occasion that Anderson went a touch fuller, he was quick to clip over the mid-on fielder, earning in process, a stare and choicest words from Anderson’s vocabulary. England didn’t help themselves through this brief period of Sri Lanka resistance, dropping two rather straightforward offerings. Jonny Bairstow, who enjoyed a field day behind the wickets – taking nine catches in the match – spilled one and James Vince put down another at third slip.
Rain provided a welcome relief to Sri Lanka’s dogged resistance, forcing the players to take an extended lunch break. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka’s innings unraveled soon after the lunch break when Moeen Ali, so often the scourge of the over-confident subcontinent teams, cramped Dinesh Chandimal for room and had him bowled. Broad found the Anderson length to send back Mathews and Anderson returned to end Mendis’ staunch fight as Sri Lanka slipped into freefall. Steven Finn helped himself to three wickets as the visitors lost their final five wickets for 26 runs, ending their ordeal 10 balls after the Tea interval.
Brief Scores: England 298 (Jonny Bairstow 140, Alex Hales 86; Dasun Shanka 3-46) beat Sri Lanka 91 & 119 (Kusal Mendis 53; James Anderson 5-29, Steve Finn 3-26) by an innings and 88 runs.
Key Stats of the game
James Anderson went past Kapil Dev’s tally of 434 wickets when he dismissed Dinesh Chandimal in the first innings. He now has 443 wickets in 114 test and is placed sixth in the all-time highest wicket takers list.
The 140 scored by Johnny Bairstow was the
+ Fourth century by a wicket keeper at Leeds and the highest of the four
+ Third first class century in last four innings at his home ground
Johnny Bairstow’s nine catches is the second most by any player who also scored a century in the same Test. AB de Villiers scored an unbeaten 103 and took 11 catches behind the stumps against Pakistan at Johannesburg in February 2013.
The 10 for 45 by James Anderson
+ made him the second English pacer to take ten wickets in a Test at Headingly after Fred Trueman’s 11 for 88 against Australia in 1961
+ were the best figures for England against Sri Lanka in Tests. The previous best was 10 for 181 by Graeme Swann at P Sara Oval in Colombo in 2012
+ was the third ten-wicket haul for Anderson in Tests and first outside Trent Bridge
England’s 298 is the second lowest first innings score off which a follow-on has been enforced. India enforced a follow-on on Sri Lanka at Chandigarh in 1990 after scoring just 288 runs (instances after follow-on margin was made 200).
Sri Lanka just faced 433 balls in the entire Test, the second least they faced in a Test defeat. The fewest is 408 balls against Australia in the Boxing Day Test of 2012.