Moeen Ali admitted a performance with the bat was a long time coming as he hit a career-best total as England took total control of the second test against Sri Lanka.
Moeen had the tourists' poor catching to thank as he made 155 not out in England's 498 for nine declared.
He shared a seventh-wicket stand of 92 with Chris Woakes, who then helped rip through Sri Lanks's batting line-up, but both were dropped early on the second morning in what proved a damaging passage of play.
Moeen, batting at seven, motored well beyond three figures and also dominated a ninth-wicket partnership of 72 with Steven Finn.
He told Sky Sports: "I think it's about time as I felt like I owe the team some runs. To do it today was a great feeling.
"Once I got in I started to time the ball well, although I struggled early on. I'd not really spent much time in the middle and sometimes it makes it difficult to get your batting head on, but I was just told to go and play my game and play how I do at Worcester and I tried to do that. I've tried to tighten up a bit, but if I see the shot I'll go for it.
"If it wasn't for the way the other guys batted then I wouldn't have got the runs, Finny batted well."
Moeen has had to bat further down the order than he would prefer recently, owing to his lack of runs.
He added: "I actually like batting at number six but if I'm told to bat eight then I'm quite happy. When they told me I was batting seven I was quite happy too.
"I have been quite average with the bat, I admit, but now I hope to keep batting well."
Having declared, England set about Sri Lanka's batting order and by stumps on day two of this second Test, Woakes (three for nine) helped reduce them to a sorry 91 for eight - leaving them highly vulnerable to further telling bursts from a pedigree seam attack if England enforce the follow-on in pursuit of an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Moeen said: "It was perfect today, especially the way we bowled. To have them eight down at the close has made it a brilliant day.
"I think going by the way we've been bowling we'd make them follow on and go again, because it's really tough and a slowish pitch. But the guys have bowled brilliantly."
A small chink of light from a dull day for Sri Lanka saw veteran Rangana Herath take his 300th Test wicket as he bowled and caught Finn.
The 38-year-old became just the third man to achieve the feat for his country, with the great Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Chaminda Vaas (355) only ahead of him.
He said: "It's a big achievement for me because I've played for the last seven years regularly so I am happy and I must say a big thank you to my team-mates and all the people who have been there.
"Only myself was there for the catch so I'm happy to have taken it and to join that list - Muttiah Muralitharan is a legend - is a big, big achievement."
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