Wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Ballance scored his maiden Test ton to help England build a massive 389 runs lead over Sri Lanka in the first Test at the Lord's Cricket Ground. England ended the fourth day on 267 for eight with two wickets in hand.
Ballance (104 not out) and Liam Plunkett (2 not out) are on the crease at the end of Day 4. The southpaw, playing first time on number three, stitched a 78 runs partnership with pacer Chris Jordan (35), when the hosts were reeling at 121 for six in the second innings.
After the departure of Jordan, who was caught by Kumar Sangakkara, the Zimbabwe-born, left-hander made 54-run stand with Stuart Broad (24) to put England in commanding position in the first of the two Test matches.
The 24-year-old held one end firmly, when England lost Ian Bell (9), Joe Root (15), Moeen Ali (4) and Matt Prior (16) in quick successions. He played with grit and determination with the English tail and reached triple figures in the last over of the day by hitting left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for a six.
"It's just a great feeling. I can't really describe it," said Ballance. "It's just very special, and I'm over the moon. With one over to go, I needed three - and I didn't want to nurdle around in singles. So I thought I'd go with a slog-sweep and luckily it came out of the middle. I thought 'if there's a chance to get a hundred tonight, why not try to get it tonight?"
The Yorkshire batsman faced a nervy moment when he was on 36. Sri Lanka made a strong caught behind appeal off Shaminda Eranga, but umpire gave decision in Ballance's favour and the DRS review also favoured the southpaw.
"I was confident I hadn't hit it," said Ballance. "But with DRS (the decision review system), you never really know, do you? My heart was in my mouth a bit, but I was pretty confident."
Earlier, the Islanders started the day at 417 for seven with skipper Angelo Mathews and Herath on the crease. They only managed to add 36 more runs to their overnight total. Mathews (102) completed third Test hundred to give Lanka a fighting chance in the match.
James Anderson provided the first breakthrough of the day when he castled Herath. Liam Plunkett got the Lankan skipper, while Nuwan Pradeep was out hit wicket off Jordan. Anderson and Jordan finished with three wickets each, Plunkett picked two, Broad and Ali chipped with one wicket each.
The Lankan skipper insisted that they are not out of the match, although, the hosts have managed to build a huge lead. He added that they need to bat sensibly in the final day to get a favourable result from the match.
"Until Ballance and Jordan got together we had our chances," Mathews told Sky Sports. "I'm not saying we're out of the game but we need to bat sensibly because they've got a healthy lead and the wicket is batting up and down."
Where to Watch Live
The 1st Test Day 5 is scheduled for an 11 am BST (3.30 pm IST, 6 am ET) start with live coverage on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports HD2 in India. The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Catch the action live on TV on Sky Sports 2 in the UK, while viewers can also live stream the action HERE. Viewers in the US can watch the game on ESPN 3 while the action can also be live streamed HERE. Watch the match in Sri Lanka on CSN with the live streaming option HERE, while South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa viewers can view the match on SuperSport and live online HERE.