The slow-burner at Lord's produced a nail-biting finish, and Sri Lanka gamely clung on against Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad's late onslaught to ensure there is everything to play for in this series-decider at Headingley.
Venue: Headingley, Leeds
Date: Friday, June 20
Time: 11 a.m. BST/10 a.m. GMT
It should be a largely dry Test match with plenty of cloud but little threat of rain up in Headingley according to BBC Weather. Friday will have the most sunshine creeping through the clouds, with more grey skies forecast for Saturday and Sunday.
No rain is forecast until Sunday evening, when play should be finished, with possible rain interruptions to come on Day 4. Temperatures will be cool, peaking at 19 degrees Celsius on Friday and generally hovering between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius across the five days.
The first Test ended as a draw thanks to an inside edge and one of the Decision Review System's finer days at the office, but it is England who will feel more buoyant going into the second Test after a stirring final-day performance left them agonisingly close to victory.
With the weather unlikely to get in the way, a repeat of the Lord's draw appears fanciful, with Headingley producing 13 results from the past 14 Tests going back to 1997, five of them by an innings and others by margins that nobody would consider slim.
England's new era started much like the old, with England's top order far from convincing before Ian Bell, echoing the home Ashes series last summer, was called into action to steady the ship. Bell was sublime in making 56 before being trapped lbw by Shaminda Eranga, but Joe Root confirmed his liking for Lord's with a chance-less double-hundred to help England past 400 for the first time in 27 innings.
Joe Root (180 v Aus, 200* v SL) became the first player to score 175+ in consecutive Test innings at Lord's @mohanstatsman
— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) June 14, 2014
With Moeen Ali making an elegant 48 on debut and Gary Ballance showing great character to register his maiden Test hundred in his first home Test, all eyes will again be on the opening pair formed of newcomer Sam Robson and the out-of-form skipper Alastair Cook.
Robson found Test cricket quite a step up from the Lions side he excelled in over the winter, and he will hope to convince selectors he is worth persevering with for the India series.
Cook has been there and done it all before, but he desperately needs runs on the board to rebuild his confidence after a torrid winter.
A total off 22 innings have passed since his last century, and in the same way Root enjoyed a return to the scene of his last century at Lord's, Cook will hope for a repeat of his achievement when England played New Zealand at Headingley last May and he made it into three figures in the second innings.
Cook's captaincy showed signs of innovation on the final day in spite of the inherent caution behind the decision to delay the declaration until stumps on Day 4.
His imaginative field settings to Kumar Sangakkara in particular were encouraging, and his troops certainly responded well to him in the victory push. However, his concentration must surely be divided with concerns over his failure to make the big scores on which he forged his reputation, and the sooner he arrests his batting slump the better.
The lack of a front-line spinner should be less of a concern at Headingley, where conditions often favour swing, despite Swann's success there last year. And whilst Anderson has a surprisingly mediocre record there with 10 wickets at 50 apiece and a strike-rate of 100, Broad fares rather better with 19 wickets every 41 balls at an average of 24. Moreover, Liam Plunkett, who failed to impress without bowling badly at Lord's, will relish the opportunity to show what he is made of at the ground where he has resurrected his career with Yorkshire.
For Sri Lanka, despite coming so close to victory with a near-calamatous collapse in the final session, many players emerged from Lord's with credit. Kumar Sangakkara belied his average of 30.58 in England to stroke a majestic 147, whilst Angelo Matthews joined him on the famous honours board with a fine century of his own. Mahela Jaywardene was his usual classy self in making a half century, whilst the increasingly assured Kaushul Silva reached 50 in both innings.
More encouraging still was the superb spell of bowling from Shaminda Eranga that saw off three of the England top four and brought the tourists right back into the game on day four. With the more experienced Nuwan Kulasekara showing an ability to swing the ball but lacking the pace to penetrate on a lifeless pitch, Sri Lanka were fortunate that Eranga stepped up to provide the sort of incision they used to get from Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga on a regular basis.
Eranga is in the middle of one of the finest spells Lord's has seen in a few years. He finds Root's edge but it doesn't carry. #EngvSL
On the downside for the tourists was Lahiru Thirimanne's complete failure to deal with Anderson, who removed him for two runs in each innings, and Dimuth Karunaratne's flakiness having appeared to have played himself in.
Prasanna Jayawardene will miss out through the injury sustained at Lord's, but Dinesh Chandimal is a more than adequate replacement despite his struggles in the limited overs series between the two sides. He averages more than 50 in 12 Tests with three centuries and five 50s to his name.
As well as having a (frustratingly short) series to settle, there are a number of intriguing sub-plots going into the Headingley Test. Many players will be bringing plenty of confidence from Lord's, and many more will feel they have something to prove. Three of the England setup will also be itching to delight their home crowd, and Bell will hope to celebrate his 100th Test with a century in the middle. It should make for a fascinating Test.
Ian Bell will play his 100th Test at Headingley, and with Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott both absent this summer he has assumed the mantle of the most senior batsman in the ranks. He is undoubtedly the class act of the top six, especially with Cook out of nick, and with Robson and Moeen starting their second Test and Ballance playing only his third, Bell increasingly looks like the man England will depend on for stability. The fact that he provides stability with such panache is an added bonus.
With Sangakkara and Jayawardene in the side and other youngsters showing promise, Sri Lanka will not be overly concerned about their batting despite the loss of nerve that almost cost them the first Test.
However, the retirements of Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan have left Sri Lanka with only the wily old campaigner Rangana Herath as a wicket-taker of proven Test quality.
Given the conditions at Headingley usually favour swing, much will depend on Shaminda Eranga rekindling the fire he found in the second innings at Lord's if Sri Lanka are going to compete in the seam bowling department with England's four-pronged pace attack, spearheaded by Anderson and Broad.
Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Sam Robson, Matt Prior (w), Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett.
Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews (c), Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedara, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Dinesh Chandimal (w), Dilruwan Perera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhammika Prasad and Kithuruwan Vithanage.
All stats via ESPN Cricinfo unless otherwise mentioned.
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