Sri Lanka coach Law applauds a batsman finally making the most of his potential

SRI Lanka coach Stuart Law applauded Ian Bell for finally making the most of his potential, as the Warwickshire batsman's unbeaten century put England in with a sniff of victory in the third Test at the Rose Bowl.

Bell (119 no) continued his prolific form, and Eoin Morgan (71) also shone in England's first-innings 377 for eight declared.

Their bowlers were then rewarded for their hard graft and skill with three Sri Lanka wickets in the remaining 49 overs on day four as the tourists narrowed a deficit of 193 by 112.

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Unless another gloomy weather forecast for the final day's play proves wide of the mark, England may still not have time to do more than close out a 1-0 series success on the back of their remarkable first Test victory in Cardiff.

However, they do have a chance - in no small part thanks to Bell's performance.

"He's in some form," said Law. "You look at some of their top order, they're in real purple patches at the moment.

"(Bell is] just keeping it nice and simple and really showing the class he has promised so much over the last couple of years."

Law added: "He's really putting together some great scores, so hats off to him." Bell himself was modest about his own achievements.

"It was nice to get out there," he said. "It's been a good cricket wicket. It's a shame the weather's ruined a really good five-day Test match.

"It was nice to get out there and score some runs. I feel in pretty good nick at the minute. I'll keep working hard with Graham Gooch and hopefully the performances will keep coming like that. I try to put in as much hard work as I can and keep improving."

He continued: "I've had times when it got very tough, when I got left out of the team, when I really was scratching about for runs. You try to remember those times when you're in good form and that's what I'm trying to do now."

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England's declaration came with their lead under 200, a move which pleasantly surprised some given captain Andrew Strauss has erred on the conservative side in the past.

Bell said: "When we discussed at lunch where we wanted to be we definitely wanted to have a bowl before tea so we wanted to be as busy as possible when we first got out there and push after drinks.

"We can't control what happens tomorrow in terms of the weather, so we wanted as many overs as possible tonight."

Sri Lanka will resume today with Kumar Sangakkara, who looked in determined mood last night, at the crease.

Bell said: "There's some good players still to come but we know if we can get them five, six down we're into the bowlers, which is great for us."Sangakkara, who averages well over 50 in Tests, has struggled in England but looked close to his best yesterday.

Law recognises his side's chances could hinge on how Sangakkara plays in today's final act.

Law said: "He's a world-class act and one of the best players on the planet so he's always very important.

"(In him] we've got one of the best players in the world at the crease and he's hungry.

"He looked very determined this evening, even more so than he has done in this tour, and that's a good thing for Sri Lanka."