Long-awaited Jennings century has England scenting victory
Keaton Jennings crafted a long-awaited century as dominant England piled on the runs before declaring late on day three of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.
Jennings had not made an international hundred since his debut against India almost two years ago, but scored a magnificent unbeaten 146 on another one-sided day.
The opener was under pressure to prove he merits a place in the side and he delivered on Thursday, carrying his bat as England declared on 322/6 to set Sri Lanka 462 to win.
Jennings - who would have been out for 58 if Sri Lanka had reviewed an LBW appeal - and Ben Stokes (62) combined for a century stand on a gruelling last day in the field for retiring spinner Rangana Herath (2-59).
Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva saw Sri Lanka through to 15 without loss at the close, but they will be praying for rain as England have two days to complete a first away win in over two years.
Stumps!— ICC (@ICC) November 8, 2018
Sri Lanka close day three on 15/0 in their attempt to chase down 462.
Keaton Jennings was the player of the day, scoring an unbeaten 146 for England.#SLvENG 1st Test live https://t.co/aBGojY53Jw pic.twitter.com/t7nCTzHC6m
Rory Burns (23) failed to cash in on a good wicket when England resumed in a commanding position, Karunaratne ending an opening stand of 60 with a direct hit when the debutant went for a quick single.
England were 74/3 after Moeen Ali struck Dilruwan Perera (2-94) straight to Herath, who then claimed the scalp of captain Joe Root caught behind in the veteran spinner's final international.
Jennings brought up his half-century with one of many sweeps and had a stroke of luck when he was given not out when trapped in front by Dilruwan but Sri Lanka opted not to review.
Stokes went on the attack in the afternoon session, disdainfully launching Dilruwan and Akila Dananjaya for six before slapping the latter through the covers to reach his half-century.
The all-rounder smashed another Dananjaya off-break over the ropes again to bring up the century stand, but was bowled by a peach of a Dilruwan delivery which pitched outside leg stump and hit off.
Jos Buttler (35) showed his usual aggressive intent by dispatching Dananjaya for a straight six and had a life from the following delivery, while Jennings continued to find the gaps before the runs dried up when he moved into the 90s.
The opener finally punched the air and jumped for joy after working Dananjaya into the leg side for a single to take him to three figures just after tea.
Dananjaya took more punishment when a Jennings drive struck him on the thumb as he attempted to take a sharp caught and bowled chance before Buttler became Herath's 433rd and final international victim.
Ben Foakes (37 from 34) was in great touch after his first-innings hundred on debut, using his feet superbly to hit Dilruwan for six and strike Dananjaya for back-to-back maximums.
Jennings and Foakes put on 61 for the sixth wicket before the wicketkeeper-batsman holed out and the Sri Lanka openers prevented any damage from being done following Root's declaration.