England's batsmen shone under pressure to draw the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka here on Thursday and keep their hopes alive in the three-match series.
The tourists, needing to bat out the fifth day after trailing by 197 runs on the first innings, played solidly to move to 250-3 in their second knock by tea before rain washed out the final session.
England now head for the final Test in Galle from next Tuesday seeking a series-levelling win after losing the first Test in Kandy by 88 runs last week.
Alastair Cook, captain Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell hit half-centuries to keep the Sri Lankans at bay on a dead pitch where just 22 wickets fell over the five days.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, who was later named man of the match for his 195 in the team's first innings total of 548-9, defended his decision to delay the declaration until after tea on the fourth day.
"I don't think even two days would have been enough to bowl out England in the second innings because the wicket was so flat and slow," he said.
Jayawardene, who surpassed Sanath Jayasuriya as Sri Lanka's highest Test run-getter in this match, said he missed the veteran's slow left-arm spin.
"We really missed his bowling," the captain said of Jayasuriya, who retired from Test cricket after the Kandy match. "But forcing a result was never going to be easy in these conditions."
Vaughan said he was delighted at his team's ability to draw the game.
"It's one of the most comfortable draws I have been involved in," the England captain said.
"Normally we panic somewhere, but not today. We got through with some good batting and it has turned into a comfortable draw. The bowlers did well to keep running in on that pitch.
"We are still 1-0 down but have got a lot to fight for to go home with a draw. I hope the Galle wicket is a bit more balanced."
Cook (62) shared an opening stand of 107 with Vaughan (61), their second successive century partnership in the match after putting on 133 in the first innings.
Vaughan was the lone batsman to be dismissed before lunch when he offered an easy return catch to fast bowler Dilhara Fernando.
Cook fell off the first ball after resumption, edging part-timer Chamara Silva to Mahela Jayawardene at first slip.
Bell (54) put on 52 for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen when he holed out against Muttiah Muralitharan, reducing the tourists to 204-3 midway through the afternoon session.
Pietersen (45 not out) and Paul Collingwood prevented further setbacks to ensure the tourists emerged unscathed as heavy rain hit the stadium during the tea break.
Umpires Daryl Harper and Aleem Dar waited till 30 minutes into the final session before informing the rival captains that no further play was possible.
Sri Lanka had won 10 of their last 12 Tests at the Sinhalese Sports Club, but the slow wicket ensured there was no threat from champion spinner Muralitharan.
The off-spinner, who surpassed Australian Shane Warne's tally of 708 wickets to become Test cricket's most successful bowler during the Kandy Test, took 1-58 from 27 overs.