Three down, seven away. At lunch on the fourth day of the first test, England remained on course to win his first game in Galle on the sixth attempt. Sri Lanka, which needs an implausible 462, has 98 for three. Their is a dejected task.
The inhabitants of Sri Lanka had resumed the 15th without losses, and for the first hour they survived with a few alarms while the breeze blew from the Indian Ocean and the England fans sat in their seats – or on the ramparts of the fort – waiting for a famous victory.
The only alarm that was sounded was immediately silenced when Ben Stokes, among all the people, put down a simple opportunity to slip to dismiss Dimuth Karunaratne off the second ball of Moeen Ali.
With the pitch still to be melted as expected, and the precious little swing in the air, it seemed like the kind of mistake a tour team could live to repent.
But seven runs later, with the total on the 50, Kaushal Silva has undertaken an incorrect maneuver against a ball of Jack Leach that has launched on stumps and has straightened – so he made his mistake worse by reviewing the verdict of Chris Gaffaney.
The technology showed three reds, and Silva was traveling for 30.
Jack Leach successfully appealed for the Sri Lanka wicket Kaushal Silva on the fourth day
Leach rejected Silva for 30 runs while England picked up the first of the wickets they needed
Moeen Ali celebrates with Jos Buttler after taking Dimuth Karunaratne's wicket
Moeen removed Karunaratne for 26, the second wicket fell while England chased victory
The Englishman Ben Stokes celebrates after taking the wicket of Dhananhaya de Silva before lunch
No one was more relieved than Stokes when Karunaratne, the 26 year old, advanced towards Ali but only managed to pierce a shot to the right of the pitcher: 59 for two, and the wicket of the 150th test of Ali, 23 to reach the reference point for England.
Dhananjaya de Silva has launched Ali for six years, and Adil Rashid has served some money in six overs, costing 20.
If England decides to leave a spinner in the second test next week at Pallekele to host Jonny Bairstow, it will probably be Rashid, not Leach, who will make his way, especially with Joe Root, who gives himself just before lunch.
Leach dives his entire length to deploy the ball from his bowl as England's victory in Galle
Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis rejects the fourth morning while the hosts try to save the game
Then, at the end of the session, the drama arrived. From the first dance, England was convinced that de Silva had brought Stokes to Ben Foakes and that the Erasmus referee had agreed. But a review showed no tremor on the Snickometer, and de Silva, 21, survived.
Not for a long time. From the next ball, he pushed Stokes down to the first slip, where Root took a smart grip and England celebrated it all over again.
Unless Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal do not dig again, this game may not need a last day.