By Rob Barnett
Test spinners Scott Borthwick and Simon Kerrigan dominated Sri Lanka A Emerging Players to help put England Lions on top after day two of three in Colombo.
Borthwick, who made his Test debut last month in the Ashes finale at Sydney, returned 4-25 and Kerrigan, whose sole Test was versus Australia at the Kia Oval in August, claimed 3-31 to skittle the hosts for 153.
That gave the Lions a lead of 126, which they extended to 313 thanks chiefly to Test wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow’s unbeaten fifty at Colts Cricket Club.
Bairstow blunted an early charge from seamers Chaminda Bandara and Kanishka Alvitigala, latterly adding an unbroken 66 with Yorkshire team-mate Liam Plunkett.
The tourists declared on yesterday’s 327 for five, which was built on Alex Lees’ first Lions ton in just his second innings for them. The decision soon paid off when James Harris and Tymal Mills struck in their respective first overs.
Home captain Mahela Udawatte and Danushka Gunathilaka rallied until Kerrigan had the latter caught behind for 29 and Plunkett likewise struck again in the next set of six.
Borthwick bowled Udawatte for 35 and crucially dislodged Chaturanga de Silva for 50. The leg-spinner went on to take three scalps in as many overs. Left-armer Kerrigan then wrapped up the innings with two wickets in five balls.
Borthwick told ecb.co.uk: “It was nice to get a few wickets and get through some overs. I thought they played pretty well. They come at me hard, which is always a nice sign and a good chance to get wickets.
“They do play the spin well. They come at it hard. Us spinners have talked about that and sort of come up with a few field placings and plans of how to combat that.”
Bandara trapped Varun Chopra in front with the first ball of the Lions' second innings and shortly accounted for opening partner James Vince.
Borthwick could not capitalise on his promotion to number three, going caught behind to Alvitigala, but Ben Foakes supported Bairstow with 20 before departing lbw to de Silva.
Bairstow and Plunkett steadied the ship, compiling 58 and 34 respectively to reach stumps on 139 for four. Their and others’ batting form has encouraged Borthwick ahead of the three ‘Tests’ with Sri Lanka A.
Borthwick added: “They’ve got some mystery spinners, a couple of off-spinners who bowl ‘doosras’ and stuff, so we’ll have to work hard. But I think most of the batters are in good nick and I think the squad’s in good shape.”