Cardiff, May 31: Losing strike pace bowler James Anderson to injury midway through the first Test against Sri Lanka, England may have seemed to be at a major disadvantage. But it took just the three remaining seamers along with trump spinner Graeme Swann to pull off an incredible win.
Having secured a mere 96 run lead from the first innings, England tore through the Lankan line-up to wrest victory in an encounter which English captain Andrew Strauss termed "one of the most extraordinary cricket matches any of us have played in".
Sri Lanka were shot out for just 82 inside 25 overs on the fifth and final day of the first Test at Sophia Gardens here yesterday as England won by an innings and 14 runs.
England's third successive innings Test victory, following their Ashes triumphs in Melbourne and Sydney, was outstanding on two counts.
Firstly rain, which marred this match throughout, seemed to have negated any chance of a positive result, especially when the whole of Sunday's first session was washed out with England still to conclude their first innings.
By that stage England were already without senior paceman James Anderson, who on Saturday was told he could not bowl again in this match because of a side strain.
But neither Anderson's absence nor a meagre crowd failed to dent England's self-belief, with Ashes revelation Chris Tremlett, once considered too ''soft'' for Test cricket, troubling Sri Lanka''s top-order with his pace and bounce.
The 6ft 7in fast bowler took four for 40 with off-spinner Graeme Swann following up with four for 16 and Stuart Broad, in his return to Test cricket after a side injury in Adelaide, collected the last two wickets to fall.