Opener Alex Hales was left to rue his failure to reach a maiden international red-ball century as England set Sri Lanka a victory target of 362 to claim the third Test spoils at Lord’s.
England need 10 wickets during’s Monday's final day to record their first Test series whitewash since 2011 after declaring on 233-7, having progressed their overnight score from 109-4. Sri Lanka navigated 12 overs of their second innings to close on 32-0.
Hales continued his upturn in form following an underwhelming debut series against South Africa during the winter, notching his third fifty against the tourists but falling for 94, agonisingly close to a ton.
“I was disappointed to get out. It was a really bitter pill to swallow but looking back I’m still pleased with how I went,” said Hales.
“As an opener, it’s frustrating to get so close to three figures and if I’m going to be a successful Test opener it’s something I’m going to have to get better at.
“Hopefully if we get lucky with the weather and bowl as well as we have all series we can put them under pressure and win this game.”
England’s total included an unbeaten 49 from skipper Alastair Cook, batting at No7, which included an uncharacteristic array of scoops and dinks and only the 11th six of his 129-Test career.
Should Sri Lanka chase down their target of 362, it will be their highest successful run chase in Test history, surpassing the 352-9 they made to beat South Africa in Colombo in 2006.