Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ballance Restores Hopes of Victory with Test Century

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ballance Restores Hopes of Victory with Test Century

Article excerpt

GARY Ballance breathed new life into England's victory hopes with a maiden Test century which left him struggling to put his feelings into words.

England's new number three, pushed up the order in only his second Test, responded with an unbeaten 104 which rescued a second-innings slump on day four against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

The hosts, thanks in particular to Ballance's seventh-wicket stand of 78 with debutant Chris Jordan, were able to close on 267-8 after all in this first Investec Test.

Alastair Cook will therefore almost certainly declare overnight, leaving Sri Lanka to try to bat out the final day - in theoretical pursuit of 390.

England were in a decidedly awkward, if not necessarily parlous, state at 121 for six when Ballance and Jordan joined forces.

More than two hours later, the Zimbabwe-born left-hander completed his century with a six over midwicket off Rangana Herath in the final over of the day.

The 24-year-old Ballance said: "It is just a great feeling. I cannot really describe it,.

"It is just very special and I am over the moon."

The hard work was done before Ballance chalked up his milestone - but with a match to be won, England hope, did he fear he might be running out of time? "A little bit," he agreed. "When Broady [Stuart Broad] came in, he was quite positive. That helped me be positive and luckily, I puta few boundaries away and got nearer to three figures.

"With one over to go, I needed three - and I did not want to nurdle around in singles. So I thought I would go with a slog-sweep and luckily it came out of the middle.

"I thought 'if there is a chance to get a hundred tonight, why not try to get it tonight?'."

Ballance was then able to celebrate in front of his close family, adding: "I had my parents and my brother fly over from Zimbabwe a few days ago.

"It is special to score this hundred in front of them."

Any sort of elation looked a long way away as England faltered to the spin of Herath (4-95) and seam of Shaminda Eranga (3-63) after bowling Sri Lanka out for 453 despite captain Angelo Mathews' 102.

Ballance did not panic, though. …

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