Hales upbeat despite missing out on century


Alex Hales retained a positive outlook despite again falling agonisingly short of a first Test hundred on Sunday.

After making respective scores of 86 and 83 in the first two Tests against Sri Lanka, the England opener rode his luck to reach 94 at Lord's before being trapped lbw by Angelo Mathews.

Having been dropped twice the previous day, Hales enjoyed more good fortune when he was bowled by Nuwan Pradeep on 58, only for umpire Rod Tucker to call a no-ball when the seamer looked to have part of his foot behind the line.

In a news conference, Hales said: "It's disappointing again to come so close [to a century]. As I've said before, as an opener when you get yourself in and get so close to three figures you've really got to be converting. But looking back, it was a pretty decent delivery and I'd had my fair share of luck throughout the day, getting bowled off that close no-ball and a couple of umpire's calls.

"I guess my luck eventually ran out."

Hales, who expressed sympathy with Pradeep and umpire Tucker over the controversial no-ball call, is confident he is "heading in the right direction" after registering another substantial score.

"I think in the first couple of games I tried to go after the spinners probably more than I should have done. In this game I felt I picked my attacking options a lot better against [Rangana] Herath and at the end of the day it took a pretty decent ball to get me out," he added.

"I feel I've learned from my mistakes earlier on in the series and it's still something I'm looking to build on.

"I think the biggest thing I've improved so far is probably my decision-making outside off stump, whether it's leaving the ball or attacking the ball.

"In South Africa [in England's previous Test series] I was sort of tentatively hanging my bat in the channel [outside off stump].

"I guess I've just tried to be a bit more ... I think positive is the right word, positive in my leaving and positive when I'm looking to attack. It is still something I'm improving on each game and there are still other areas I want to work on as well."

Sri Lanka will begin the final day at Lord's on 32-0, requiring a further 330 for victory after England declared on 233-7, fit-again skipper Alastair Cook (49 not out) sharing 82 with Hales after coming in at seven.