England v Sri Lanka: Ian Bell left to rue ‘really poor’ day four

England v Sri Lanka: Ian Bell rues a "really poor day" after the hosts falling to 57-5 in pursuit of 350 for victory

Ian Bell was left to rue England’s missed opportunities as they stare defeat in the face after day four of the winner-takes-all second Test against Sri Lanka.

A brilliant 160 from Angelo Mathews and some stubborn tail end batting left the hosts needing a record 350 to win but the hosts found themselves 57-5 at the close.

We had a chance to really stretch the lead but it shows when you play Test cricket against world-class teams if you don’t recognise those key periods then they will come back at you

Ian Bell

England looked favourites after building a first innings lead of 108 but allowed Sri Lanka to post 457 second time around before collapsing after tea, which Bell was disappointed by.

“Ideally we would one or none down, we can’t get away from the fact it was a really poor day,” 32-year-old Bell said.

“For the first two days we’ve been outstanding and we certainly deserved a bit more from the first innings.

“We had a chance to really stretch the lead but it shows when you play Test cricket against world-class teams if you don’t recognise those key periods then they will come back at you.

“I think they showed tonight exactly what to do when you get on top and people are down – you keep them down.”

It is the latest in a series of hard-knocks for the English team after their horrendous Ashes tour and failing to make it out of their World T20 group.

They were also edged out of the one-day international series against their current opponents and the tourists’ captain, Mathews, spoke of his pride at his team’s fighting spirit.

“We were just trying to be positive and look to score runs because we had no way out but to score runs and counter-attack,” he said.

“It will be a successful tour if we can pull it out but the job is only half done and we need to get those five wickets as quickly as possible.

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