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May 29, 2011
England 491 for 5 (Bell 98*, Morgan 14*) lead Sri Lanka 400 by 91 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
This Test is unlikely to linger long in the memory but that won't bother Jonathan Trott who continued to satisfy his insatiable hunger for runs with a second international double-hundred. Ian Bell, meanwhile, ended the day unbeaten on 98 after the pair added 160 for the fifth wicket to take England into a 91-run lead, from where they may be able to put pressure on Sri Lanka during the final day although the forecast is again poor.
Trott's 200 came from 398 balls and followed his previous double against Bangladesh, at Lord's, last year and although he didn't remain unbeaten his average still stands at 66.77. It wasn't such a good day for Kevin Pietersen as his problems against left-arm spin came back into view when he fell to Rangana Herath for 3. Instead it was down to the two Warwickshire team-mates to consolidate the record stand between Trott and Alastair Cook which had ended on 251. Sadly there was a sense of futility to England's boot-filling but if nothing else they have laid down a marker for the series.
The biggest issue in this match is the time lost and another dank day meant there was no action before lunch while the poor forecast for Monday doesn't bode well. Unless Sri Lanka collapse in their second innings there won't be a result so it is likely to become an exercise in taking psychological points ahead of Lord's on Friday. In that respect Sri Lanka will take heart from Pietersen's failure when he couldn't get his bat down on a ball that skidded through from Herath and got him in a tangle.
Initially, Billy Doctrove gave him not out because bat was very close to the pad and the ball, but the DRS showed a hotspot on the pad fractionally before Pietersen's bat came down. The third umpire, Rod Tucker, took a long time to assess the decision before relaying the information back to Doctrove and Pietersen - who had watched Cook and Trott bat for 77 overs - hauled himself slowly off the pitch.
Farveez Maharoof had made the first breakthrough when Cook, having added four to his overnight score, top-edged a cut to Prasanna Jayawardene when the ball bounced a little more than expected. Although not much more than medium-pace, Maharoof maintained a consistent line and found a hint of unpredictable bounce in a tight 12-over spell as he operated throughout the afternoon session.
Progress was slow for England, but Bell gave a lesson in how to play left-arm spin when he skipped down the pitch to loft a straight six off Herath who bowled a 21-over spell. Trott moved along at his own pace, content to pad or block away Herath's leg-stump line, and it wasn't until the 14th over of the day when he added to his boundary count with a straight drive.
Trott's tempo remained consistent throughout the innings and one of his best shots was the on-drive that took him to 178, the highest individual score for England against Sri Lanka, beating Graham Gooch's record of 174. However, he couldn't set himself a new career-best mark when he tried to give himself room against Tillakaratne Dilshan as England hustled a little more.
Bell's batting was the most enjoyable part of a dreary day. He twice gained boundaries off the inside edge that just evaded off stump and the keeper, but he was in prime touch with the silky timing that was a hallmark of his play in Australia. He was given a life on 19 when a well-hit cut was put down at gully by Kumar Sangakkara, however there was a sense of inevitability about the fifty that arrived from 88 balls.
At least there was an eight-over spell from Thisara Perera that made Bell work quite hard as Perera located a tricky length on a surface that offered some variable bounce. It was an indication that this could have been an interesting pitch if there had been the full amount of play, and offers something for the England bowlers to aim for. One delivery climbed to strike Bell on the bottom hand, and Perera was also the bowler for one of the inside-edged boundaries.
During the latter part of the final session Bell started to bring some innovation to his batting after England moved into the lead. He reverse-swept Herath and switched his stance to dispatch Dilshan through the covers as he approached three figures in the closing overs. Eoin Morgan did his best to feed him the strike, but with three balls remaining he couldn't find the three runs he needed for a 13th Test hundred. Getting a chance on the final morning depends on Andrew Strauss and the weather.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala