Sri Lanka finished the day 214-4 with a lead of 106 after needing just an hour to take the hosts’ four remaining first innings wickets.
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene then made 50s, and the latter will resume with captain Angelo Mathews on day four – but England’s assistant coach Farbrace still believes victory is still the hosts’ to lose.
“It is set nicely,” Farbrace said. “Ideally we want to use the new ball well tomorrow morning and take early wickets with that.”
“If we can do that and break this partnership and get into the tail then we give ourselves a good chance of winning the game.
“We’ve played good cricket, they’ve probably edged today but if we use the new ball well and get our lengths right then take our catches at slip then we’ll be in a great position.”
Moeen Ali impressed with the ball and finished with 2-26 from his nine overs and Farbrace spoke of his delight at the 27-year-old’s progress.
“He did make it happen and it was an inspired choice when he came on,” Farbrace added.
“We’re accepting that Moeen isn’t a frontline bowler at this stage, he’s a batsman who is learning his craft as a bowler.
“The top four are front line bowlers and the plan was for them to get wickets to win the game for us and they’ve done fantastically well so there’s no blame attached to them.”
MORE: The latest football news
MORE: The latest tennis news
BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge