Ian Bell’s unbeaten century gave England the chance of victory in the third cricket Test against Sri Lanka, which trails by 81 runs heading into the final day.
Bell struck 119 at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, England, yesterday to lift the home team to 377-8 declared, a first-innings lead of 193. Sri Lanka was 112-3 at stumps on day four, with captain Kumar Sangakkara on 44 and Rangana Herath on 2.
Bell’s 14th Test century, his fifth successive score of 50 or more in elite cricket, set up the chance of an England win in a match that’s been disrupted by rain. With the forecast calling for more showers today, U.K. bookmaker William Hill rates the draw as the most likely outcome at 4-6.
“There’s some good players still to come but we know if we can get them five, six down we’re into the bowlers,” Bell told Sky Sports. “We can’t control what happens in terms of the weather.”
England leads the three-match series 1-0 and a 2-0 triumph would lift Andrew Strauss’s team joint second in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings with South Africa. India, England’s next opponent, is ranked No. 1.
England resumed at 195-4 yesterday and added 182 to the total in the first full day of play in the match. Kevin Pietersen made 85, Alastair Cook 55 and Eoin Morgan 71.
Fast bowlers James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and Stuart Broad then got a wicket each in the final session as Sri Lanka lost Tharanga Paranavitana, Lahiru Thirimanne and Mahela Jayawardene.
Tremlett took his tally to seven wickets for the match after claiming 6-48 in Sri Lanka’s first-innings 184.