England were left needing 36 fifth-day runs to win a gripping first Test against Sri Lanka, after being dragged into an exhausting battle of wills in Galle.
The tourists have been firm favourites ever since skittling their opponents for just 135 on the first afternoon and, while they remain well positioned to close out victory, they were challenged all the way on Sunday.
First Sri Lanka turned a 286-run deficit into a lead of 73, an outstanding effort of belligerent batsmanship, then they set the hares running by reducing Joe Root’s side to 14 for three as nerves frayed and shadows lengthened.
The umpires called time with England on 38 for three, with Jonny Bairstow and debutant Dan Lawrence at the crease having settled the situation down in failing light. After single-figure dismissals for Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and captain Root, senselessly run out in the growing chaos, it was a slender but crucial stand.
A first for Buttler
Jos Buttler has a total of 37 stumpings for England in white-ball cricket but had to wait until now to claim his first in Tests. In his 28th outing as wicketkeeper he finally added another feather to his cap, quickly spotting Dilruwan Perera’s foot slipping and nipping off the bails to hand his old Somerset team-mate Jack Leach one of his five scalps.
View from the dressing room
Stuart slams the brakes
England regained some of their control in the afternoon session by squashing the run-rate, allowing only 60 runs from 29 overs between lunch and tea. Nobody did more for that cause than Stuart Broad, who went wicketless but showed the way with a miserly spell of five overs for just one run – a single off his penultimate ball. In the entire innings he conceded an average of 0.82 per over.