Bell pleased to rediscover batting form
Ian Bell was relieved to be back in the runs after making a half-century on day two in Galle, his innings of 52 amounting to more than his combined total during England's three Tests in the UAE earlier this year.
Bell's fifty was the main contribution to England's first-innings total of 193 and he was pleased to spend some time in the middle after a miserable series against Pakistan.
"It was nice to change a pair of gloves for the first time this winter," Bell said. "The foot movement was going well for both seamers and spinners so it's very nice. I've done a lot of practising and a lot of netting but just haven't had time out in the middle and felt quite out of nick. You need to be in good form when you play against good spin."
After making 835 runs against Sri Lanka and India during 2011, Bell was hailed as England's most attractive player. But he slumped against Pakistan, scoring just 51 at an average of 8.50 - almost 15 times lower than his mark in the summer.
"I've tried to get back to real basics and just watch the ball and let everything else take over," he said. "Sometimes you get so desperate to score runs it gets harder and harder. When you get across the line it's about scoring runs."
Bell was tormented by Saeed Ajmal in the UAE, unable to pick his doosra. But he has worked hard on his methods against spin, travelling out early to Sri Lanka for extra practice sessions while acclimatising.
"When you're in the nets you have to put things in place to test yourself to try and get better. All the way through the levels - and you can see in the Lions now - we know we all have to get better at playing spin it's a long-term goal but we're working to get better.
"We're working hard, getting in to good positions, using our feet, being able to go back. Everyone had their own gameplan, whether it's to be positive to use their feet or to hit over the top but you have to be right on it. If you don't get it right you're going to lose wickets."
England again crumbled against spin, losing eight wickets to slow bowling as Rangana Herath took his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests with 6 for 74. Herath eventually bowled Bell, spinning one past his outside edge - a delivery Bell might have played differently without the influence of DRS.
"You're more aware that you have to play more with the bat than the pad and in general you have to be hitting a lot of the balls," Bell said. "The game hasn't changed but there are more lbws. Now you have to play in front of your pad, you can't play with bat behind pad, and you have to get a good stride because it's not going to go over the top."
Edited by Alan Gardner