LONDON: Alex Hales came agonizingly close to a maiden test century as England plowed on against Sri Lanka with captain Alastair Cook back batting on a rain-interrupted fourth day at Lord's on Sunday. After the day began three hours late because of rain, Hales moved from 41 overnight to 94 when he was out in the second-to-last over before tea. He was late to a ball by Angelo Mathews and hit on his back pad.
READ ALSOVideo confirmed it would have taken his leg stump. It was his third 80-plus score in the series, but luckiest. He was dropped twice and bowled off a no-ball. England went to the break with its second innings at 206-6 and a lead of 334 in a bid to sweep the three-test series. Cook didn't open on Saturday because of a bruised left knee, but walked in at the early fall of nightwatchman Steven Finn, who added one run before he was out lbw on 7 to Shaminda Eranga. Coming in at No. 7, the lowest he's ever been in the lineup, Cook and Hales offered the odd sight of the regular openers pairing up so late. They even surpassed their best partnership of 64, by combining for 82. Cook was 32 not out at tea, with Moeen Ali yet to score.