Advantage England after rain-hit day


On a day spoiled by frequent rain interruptions, England pressed home their advantage but have left Sri Lanka with some hope that if they play with aggression they might be able to sneak out of Lord's with an unlikely victory.

No play was possible in the first session of the day after heavy showers. Play resumed after lunch at 14:35 with England on 109/4 and looking to press home their advantage on the penultimate day of the final Test.

Night-watchman, Steven Finn, went early when Shaminda Eranga trapped the big fast bowler leg before for 7. Captain Alastair Cook joined his usual opening partner Alex Hales at the wicket after Finn made his way back to the dressing room. Cook had been injured in the field yesterday but was passed fit to bat and appeared at number 7, the lowest position he has ever batted in a Test match.

Shortly after Finn departed, Hales received a stroke of good fortune. Nuwan Pradeep got one to keep low and the ball clattered into Hales' stumps but the umpire stretched out his arm to signal a no-ball. Replays showed that a portion of Pradeep's boot was behind the crease when his foot landed though, and the quick will likely feel aggrieved by the decision.

England were blessed with more good fortune a couple of overs later when Rangana Herath was adjudged to have dismissed Cook leg before wicket, but the England captain reviewed and replays showed the ball, which may also have taken a faint edge, hit the skipper just outside the line of off stump and the decision was overturned.

Cook and Hales put on 82 for the sixth wicket, before Hales was caught adjacent and given out leg before off the bowling of Angelo Mathews, just six runs shy of his maiden Test century and just two overs from the tea break.

The rain returned during tea delaying the start of the final session, and when the session did get underway only three balls were bowled before the umpires pulled the players off again, the players returned after just a few minutes but only two overs were bowled before another 15 minute rain delay hit the final session.

After all the breaks Cook and number 8 Moeen Ali resumed and would show aggressive intent as England looked to get a reasonable total before declaring. Ali sacrificed his wicket for the England cause trying to clear the boundary on the offside but holing out to Herath in the deep off the bowling of Eranga.

Cook showed uncharacteristic invention, with varied success, and much to the amusement of the England dressing room. Cook smashed only the 11th six of his Test career though before unselfishly declaring when he was on 49. England finished on 233/7 declared 361 runs ahead of Sri Lanka.

Hales finished as England's top scorer with his 94, while Pradeep was the pick of the bowlers taking 3/37.

Sri Lanka were left to face a tricky spell of 12 overs before the close of play but survived unscathed moving to 32 without loss to leave the game interestingly poised. The draw is probably the favourite with rain around and while England are in the better position Sri Lanka are by no means out of this contest and the fifth day promises to be an enthralling one.