England beat Sri Lanka as Pietersen and Swann shine

By Marc HigginsonBBC Sport
Graeme Swann
Graeme Swann
Second Test, Colombo, day five (stumps)
England 460 & 97-2 beat Sri Lanka 275 & 278 by 8 wickets
Match scorecard

Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen kept their nerve to lead England to victory over Sri Lanka in the second Test.

After dismissing the hosts for 278 - Graeme Swann taking 6-106 - England had a brief wobble in pursuit of 94.

Andrew Strauss was bowled in the first over of the run chase, with Jonathan Trott also falling cheaply.

But Cook (49no) and Pietersen, with a rapid 42, wrapped up the victory which levels the two-match series and keeps England top of the world rankings.

England's run-chase was subject to trial by spin, with the Sri Lankans keen to prey on any bad memories from Abu Dhabi when Strauss's side were bowled out for 72 against Pakistan.

And there must surely have been some butterflies in the tourists' dressing room when the England skipper was bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan after playing an indecisive shot to a turning delivery.

The usually reliable Jonathan Trott was also removed, with 63 runs still needed for victory, but Cook and Pietersen took the game by the scruff of the neck to lead England to their first Test victory of a difficult winter.

Cook showed all the class and ability which has seen him become a top-class one-day player and captain to instil the sort of positive intent which Pietersen then thrived upon.

The opener set the tone with a series of boundaries - laying the platform for man-of-the-match Pietersen to finish it off in style.

Fresh from his scintillating 151 in the first innings, Pietersen took only 28 balls to score his 42 runs and he sealed victory with a six.

England needed only one session in the morning to take the four wickets they needed to set up their victory chase but they might have taken even less time if early chances had been taken.

Cook, fielding at short leg, dropped Angelo Mathews twice, on 3 and 12, to allow the batsman to shepherd the tail following the dismissal of Mahela Jayawardene.

The Sri Lankan captain was always going to prove to be the key wicket, and it took a virtual unplayable delivery from Swann to dismiss him - Jayawardene could only fend a climbing, spinning delivery to Cook.

The last three wickets put on 40 runs, with Mathews making 46 before being removed by Steven Finn, to ensure a potentially awkward chase for England.

However any early nerves were dissipated by the composed Cook and Pietersen, who batted with the sort of authority England had lacked in recent matches.

It means England remain at the top of the world Test rankings, heading into their summer challenges against the West Indies and the team desperate to take their number one crown, South Africa.