Harry Tector bravely saw off a bumper barrage in Galle yesterday (FRI) but his gallant effort to save the second Test for Ireland ended in failure as Sri Lanka won by an innings and 10 runs to take the series 2-0.

Ireland needed to bat through the final day to earn a first draw in Test cricket at the sixth attempt and may have done so if another batsman had been able to offer Tector enough support as he battled to a top score of 85.

The luck was not with his partners, though, as skipper Andy Balbirnie was struck on the helmet on 24 and had to retire for concussion checks, Paul Stirling fell to a stunning low catch in the covers and Lorcan Tucker was bowled via his ribcage.

Balbirnie returned before lunch and reached 46 before driving Ramesh Mendis out the rough and lobbing a catch to mid-off, before the off-spinner found sharp turn to remove left-handers Andy McBrine and Graham Hume and complete a five-wicket haul.

Running out of partners, Tector went into overdrive. It had taken the YMCA man 159 balls of defiance to reach his third Test half-century but his next 35 runs came off 30, including three sixes, as he tried to at least make the home side bat again.

An inswinging yorker denied him, and the innings ended next ball on 202 when Ben White was also castled by Asitha Fernando whose prolonged aggression unsettled all the Ireland batsmen and probably deserved more than three wickets.

“We felt the pitch was still good enough to bat the day,” Balbirnie said. “It didn’t help with me going off and then losing a couple of wickets before lunch but you have to give credit to the way Asitha bowled with real accuracy and hostility.

“Harry played the situation brilliantly. To see off that barrage was a credit to him and he will take a lot from this trip as a Test cricketer. 

“Mentally the last three weeks have been draining, but we’ve really enjoyed it. Test matches are still the best format in my opinion and the group have loved the challenges. We were in amongst it for large parts of the games and we can take positives from that.”

Ireland can also take positives from posting 492, their highest total, and taking a Test into the fifth day for the first time, but Balbirnie’s side are also now the owners of the highest first-innings match total to be beaten by an innings.