Bell: Yes, it looks like we're going to lose the Test series

England

Batsman Ian Bell sprung to the defence of captain England captain Alastair Cook, as England neared defeat on day four of the series decider against Sri Lanka at Headingley in Leeds on Monday.

Batsman Ian Bell sprung to the defence of captain England captain Alastair Cook, as England neared defeat on day four of the series decider against Sri Lanka at Headingley in Leeds on Monday.

Cook's latest failure, which brought a 24th consecutive innings without a Test century, epitomised a performance that saw England slip to an alarming 57 for five in pursuit of a staunch 350-run target.

Having struck two boundaries en route to a promising 17, the left-handed Cook attempted a third in pulling a short ball from fast bowler Dhammika Prasad. However, he succeeded only in chopping the ball onto his stumps.

"As a group, we've got to help him, get right behind him and start performing as a team. He's got more tons than anyone in an England shirt, and he's been one of the best I've ever played with," said Bell.

"Form is temporary, one innings and he'll be flying again. So I'm not worried about his batting at all. We've been working really well, and there's this one really bad day we've had in the last eight or nine. Yes, it looks like we're going to lose the Test series."

The Sri Lankans were arguably fortunate to force a draw in the first Test at Lord's in London, where a double-century from all-rounder Joe Root and a complementary ton from newcomer Gary Ballance went in vain.

A fine ton from the Australian-born Sam Robson and a telling nine-wicket haul from the recalled Liam Plunkett, who prior to this month had not played Test match cricket for seven years, will likely prove futile in Leeds too.

"Sri Lanka were very lucky to hang on the other day at Lord's. We could be one-nil up sat here. It's a good reminder for some young players in this group that, when you get opportunities – whether with bat or ball – you have to bury them," added Bell.

"We didn't do that in this Test. If we get them in the future, against India, we need to make sure we do. That will be a good lesson for everyone."

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