Sunday 21 January 2018

Bell and Morgan give England edge


Derek Pringle, at the Rose Bowl

England strove hard to wrap up the third Test against Sri Lanka yesterday after declaring their first innings with half the day's overs remaining.

A sumptuous Ian Bell century and Eoin Morgan's fine 71 had given them a 193-run lead, and Sri Lanka closed 81 runs behind on 112-3.

It was a bold, proactive move by Andrew Strauss, who generally likes to make a game safe before he declares but England's ambition to become the best Test team in the world means they must make such pro-action a habit. They certainly have the bowling attack to be bold as Anderson and Chris Tremlett showed when they dismissed both Sri Lankan openers.

Once again, Tremlett was the pick of the bowlers, at least until Stuart Broad produced the beauty that got rid of Mahela Jayawardene, caught behind off one that jagged away.

Their opportunity owed much to Bell, whose unbeaten 119 came off 169 balls. It was Bell's sixth Test hundred in his last 20 innings, a period in which he is averaging 91.4.

A century had also looked destined for Morgan, who batted almost as well as Bell. With two hundreds in one-day internationals here last year, Morgan has an affinity for the Rose Bowl and only the rush to declare, in which he and Bell took big risks, prevented him adding another. He was caught behind for 71, giving himself room to smash Suranga Lakmal.

Matt Prior and Broad soon followed before Strauss declared. The crowd hoped to see England win by the close, but Kumar Sangakkara (44no) dug in to give the tourists hope of avoiding defeat today, with rain expected (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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