Jennings ton sets up England push for victory

Keaton Jennings celebrates reaching his century

First Test, Galle (day three)
England 342 & 322-6 dec: Jennings 146*, Stokes 62, Foakes 37
Sri Lanka 203 & 15-0: Kushal 8
Sri Lanka need 447 runs to win
Scorecard

Keaton Jennings ended his two-year wait for a Test century as England moved into a formidable position on day three of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

Jennings scored a brilliant 146 not out to allow England to declare late in the day on 322-6.

Sri Lanka closed on 15-0 and must bat the final two days for a draw or score a record 462 to win to deny England a first away win since in 13 Tests.

Jennings’s century was his first since his ton on debut in 2016.

He batted patiently early on as England lost wickets in the morning session, before attacking after reaching three figures for the first time in 22 innings.

The tourists had lost Rory Burns and Moeen Ali in poor fashion before lunch, with captain Joe Root also falling, but Jennings put on 107 with Ben Stokes, 77 with Jos Buttler and 61 with Ben Foakes.

The late contributions ensured Sri Lanka must make the highest successful run chase in Test history, at a ground where the highest winning chase is just 99.

If rain does not wash out large portions of the final two days then England will likely earn their first Test win overseas since 2016.

Jennings returns to form

Jennings has been one of the most criticised England batsmen in recent months as he struggled to repeat the success of his debut century in Mumbai against India in December 2016.

He was dropped from the team in 2017, after one fifty in five matches, before being recalled in June and averaging just 19.20 against Pakistan and India this summer.

That meant his place was under threat for this series but England stuck with the Lancashire player following the retirement of fellow opener Alastair Cook.

On the spinning pitch in Galle he looked far more comfortable than he did in swinging and seaming conditions in England.

He batted sensibly, pushing the ball into open spaces for the majority of his innings and persistently looking to reverse sweep, one of his favoured shots.

Sri Lanka chose not to review an lbw decision just after Jennings passed 50 which replays showed would have been out had they done so, but that was the only chance he gave in the innings, other than a sharp caught and bowled effort when attacking late on.

He was unbeaten on 98 at tea but afterwards safely reached three figures before kicking on to better the 112 he made in Mumbai in conditions which also favoured spin.

More to follow.

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