Southampton, June 20: Hosts England ended Day 4 of the third Test against Sri Lanka in a strong position as the visitors trailed by 81 runs with 7 wickets in hand. Ian Bell was instrumental in giving England a solid first innings lead of 193 run lead with an unbeaten 119, while Eoin Morgan provided excellent support with 71 as the hosts notched up 377/8 declared. Then England chipped away at the Lankan line-up, reducing it to 112/3 in 49 overs.
Resuming on their overnight score of 195/4 (with a lead over Sri Lanka of 11), England pressed ahead confidently. In the first over of the day, nightwatchman James Anderson smacked Thisara Perera for two back-to-back fours, taking his side past 200/4 in 48.4 overs. But soon after the other batsman Ian Bell, brought up his 50 off 74 balls, Chinaka Welegedara had Anderson caught behind for 27 off 33 balls as the score read 236/5 in the 58th over.
Then new batsman Eoin Morgan and Bell settled into a comfortable partnership, taking England past 250/5 in 64 overs. The fours came sporadically, but the scoreboard kept ticking over as the batting duo took Ole Blighty to 300 in the 78th over. In the 82nd over, Bell once again cut loose, smashing Welegedara for two consecutive boundaries.
A couple of overs later, Morgan notched up 50 with a four off the same bowler and in the following over Bell brought up his century off 159 balls. Soo afterwards, England crossed 350. But Sri Lanka struck back with Lakmal getting Morgan caught behind for 71 and in the 91st over, Perera having Matt Prior get caught in front of point for a duck, before Lakmal got Stuart Broad out for no-score as well. At 377/8, England decided to declare, thus setting Lanka a target of 194 to take the lead.
In their second innings, Sri Lanka got off to a slow but steady start, reaching 25/0 in 12 overs, before Anderson got the breakthrough. He send Nuwan Paranaviatana back for 10 off 38 balls. But Kumar Sangakkara and surviving opener Thirimanne counter-attacked with a couple of fours as Sri Lanka moved to 33/1 in 14 overs.
In the 22nd over, Thirimanne dispatched Stuart Broad to the boundary to bring up Lanka's 50. Several quiet overs followed as th Lankan score crawled along. Then Chris Tremlett struck ton remove Thiramanne for 38 off 112 balls as the score read 86/2 in 38 overs. Six overs later, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene brought up Lanka's 100, before Jayawardene was caught behind off Broad for 6 off 23 balls. By the time the umpires called stumps, Sri Lanka were 112/3, still trailing by 81 runs.