Jonathan Trott’s double hundred dominated proceedings on a rain-interrupted fourth day in Cardiff where England forged into a 91-run lead with five first-innings wickets remaining.
While Trott continued his dogged defiance on his way to his second Test score of over 200, Ian Bell’s attractive knock ended on 98 not out with the home side reaching 491 for five after 63 overs on the penultimate day of the opening Test.
Inclement weather frustratingly delayed the start of play until half-past-two in the afternoon when Trott and Alastair Cook resumed their marathon stand from the previous evening. It was however just six overs before Cook’s knock finally came to an end – the left-hander edging behind off the bowling of Ferveez Maharoof to be out for 133.
England number four Kevin Pietersen’s stay at the crease was brief, and the most entertaining incident of a generally slow opening session came when he was trapped in front by a delivery which scooted through low from left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.
A combination of bat and pad had umpire Billy Doctrove calling it not out, but a Sri Lankan review proved otherwise and Pietersen had to go for just three.
Trott meanwhile continued to battle on, but hit just 22 runs in the session, one which featured only two bowlers as the tourists persisted with Herath and Maharoof in tandem throughout the 24 overs – England reaching 344 for four at tea.
The afternoon session then saw Trott and Ian Bell dominate the Sri Lankan attack as the Warwickshire pair combined in a 150-run partnership to run down the visitors’ first innings lead. Herath would end the day having bowled 29 of the 63 overs and even when Ajantha Mendis was introduced as late as the 43th over of the day, the English pair continued to milk the runs with ease.
As the gloom descended on Sophia Gardens Trott would go to 200 from 398 deliveries, due reward for his determined application. Then, shortly after having reached the milestone the 30-year old was then bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan who was more than delighted to see the England number three depart.
Eoin Morgan then came to the crease with just four overs of the day left and he looks relaxed in a brief but attacking knock of 14 not out from as many deliveries. Bell meanwhile – having survived a tough chance to Kumar Sangakkara when his score was on 19 – would narrowly miss out on a deserved hundred before the close, finishing just two runs short of the milestone as he was unable to make the most of the last three deliveries of the day.
The game looks set to end in a draw with the possibility of rain on the final day but England will still retain faint hope of victory if their bowling attack – minus the injured Jimmy Anderson – can fire on Monday. Cricket365