Dominic Cork believes Kevin Pietersen's century has made England overwhelming favourites to defeat Sri Lanka and retain their status as the number one side in the world.
The 31-year-old's swashbuckling knock of 151 off 165 balls - his 20th Test ton - steered England to a first innings total of 460 after day three of the second Test in Colombo.
The visitors ended proceedings with a lead of 181 after Sri Lanka notched four runs off a solitary over before the close, but Sky Sports pundit Cork insists that the afternoon belonged to one man.
"(Kevin Pietersen) showed what a great player he is," said the former England quick.
"He made batting look so easy. He used his feet, swept, reverse swept; he did everything we know Pietersen can do.
"He has altered the game so much in England's favour and now England just have to do what they have done well all winter and bowl (a side out).
"I think he was in a mindset that it was the last Test of the series and England need to win it (to level the series).
"Considering the pressure he has been under and the runs he hasn't got, it was one of his best and most important knocks for England."
Alastair Cook (94 off 278 balls) and Jonathan Trott (64 off 137) were also in the runs, and Cork and fellow Sky Sports analyst Bob Willis reserved glowing praise for the duo's temperament.
"You always know how he goes about putting an innings together," Cork said of Cook. "He times the ball really well and doesn't seem to get fazed by any period of play.
"Even when he gets put under pressure and has stopped scoring, he is a Graham Gooch. He is the sort of guy that just wants to bat and the only surprise is that he didn't get a hundred today."
Of Trott, who scored a century on his Test debut against Australia in 2009, Willis added: "We saw what mental strength Trott had when he came into the cauldron of The Oval in an Ashes-deciding Test match and delivered the goods.
"He very rarely lets England down; he gets into his own little cocoon of concentration and knows what his tempo of play is. If he gets in he just loves batting; he and Cook are very alike in that regard."