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England targets Sri Lanka whitewash

Associated Press Associated Press 12/06/2016

Even after losing a session to rain on Sunday, the England-Sri Lanka Test series will come to an intriguing end at Lord's on Monday.

England has already won the series but it has a whitewash in sight after declaring its second innings on the fourth day Sunday and setting Sri Lanka 362 runs to win.

Sri Lanka, humiliated by two heavy defeats, can save some face and preserve a 25-year unbeaten record at the home of cricket by pulling off a monumental chase, which was reduced to 330 runs with 10 wickets in hand by stumps.

The odds still heavily favour England.

Only three teams in Test history, one of them in the last 40 years, have chased down a bigger target after a declaration.

Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva, who enjoyed a century opening stand in their first innings, scored a comfortable 19 and 12 respectively to see their side to 0-32.

They survived 12 overs harmlessly, with 98 more available on Monday to find some consolation from a lopsided series.

England declared its second innings on 7-233 after making 416 in the first.

Alex Hales came agonisingly close to a maiden Test century, with captain Alastair Cook dropping down the order because of an injury.

After the first session was washed out, Hales moved from 41 overnight to 94 when he was out in the second-to-last over before tea.

He was late to a ball by Angelo Mathews and hit on his back pad. Video confirmed it would have taken his leg stump.

It was his third 80-plus score in the series, but the luckiest.

He was dropped twice on Saturday, and bowled off a no-ball on 58, all off the bowling of Nuwan Pradeep, who finished with 3-37.

Video put the no-ball call by umpire Rod Tucker in doubt and, soon after, a Sri Lanka flag was hung off the players' balcony, in an apparent silent protest.

Lord's authorities just as quickly told Sri Lanka to remove the flag.

Cook didn't open on Saturday because of a left knee bruised while fielding, but walked in at the early fall of nightwatchman Steven Finn for 7.

Coming in at No. 7, the lowest he's ever been in the lineup, Cook and Hales offered the odd sight of the regular openers pairing up so late. They even surpassed their best partnership of 64, by combining for 82.

With constant interruptions for showers after tea, England hurried. Cook reached 49 not out, and declared in the same over that Moeen Ali was out for 9.

Cook tried four bowlers to knock out Karunaratne and Silva, in vain. He has all day on Monday.

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