Sri Lanka claimed a thrilling 100 runs win over England in the Headingley Test to register their first ever series win on English soil, as the hosts were bowled out for 249 in the second innings on Tuesday at Leeds.
Moeen Ali's unbeaten century and stiff resistance from last man James Anderson proved insufficient as the Lankan Lions snatched a dramatic win in the final over of the Test match.
Anderson (0) and Ali (108 not out) spent 20 overs on the crease as England looked set to save the match. However, Anderson after spending almost 90 minutes and facing 55 deliveries fell on the penultimate ball of Shaminda Eranga.
"I'm obviously very gutted," Ali said. "A hundred to save the game would have been fantastic but it doesn't mean as much with the guys so disappointed. I had to fight myself a bit. I'd much rather get 99 and save the game."
Pacer Dhammika Prasad was the wrecker-in-chief for the Islanders as he finished with five for 55, left-arm spinner Rangana Herath took three wickets, while Nuwan Pradeep and Eranga chipped in with one wicket each.
"It means everything," Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews said. "We kept trying and didn't lose our belief. Our bowlers are quite inexperienced but they tried to hit their lines and lengths and were brilliant."
Mathews-led side after winning the Twenty20 and ODI series also claimed their first Test win since 1998. Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara praised the skipper for leading the team and making an impact with both bat and ball in the tie.
"Mathews showed he is a fantastic young man," said Sangakkara. "The way he led us through the tour - through the best of times and some controversy - showed the strength of his character."
Mahela Jayawardene, who helped Lanka build a 349 runs lead in the second along with Mathews, said the players had faith in their abilities and they delivered in the crunch situation.
"We had to really fight at Lord's and here we had to dig deep," said Jayawardene. "This is something special for us, our first series win in England. We always believed in our ability, we felt we had something special to give... the way the quicks bowled was remarkable."
England's struggle in the longer format continued, as after losing the Ashes series 5-0 Down Under, they have slumped to another series defeat, this time at home.
Form of skipper Alastair Cook is also under scrutiny, as he has failed to provide England steady starts in both Tests. The southpaw has ruled out possibility of resigning as a captain, but admitted that his form has put additional pressure on him.
"With runs hard to come by, it does put more pressure on me," Cook said. "There a few technical things I can work on, but it comes down to being mentally strong at the crease. Everyone knows form can change very quickly. I've done it in the past and I've got to drag that mental strength out again."
"When I walk out to bat, I don't think of myself as a captain," he added. "Being captain probably makes you more determined to score runs."