By Dominic Farrell
Opening batsman Sam Robson enjoyed the challenge of facing spin in sub-continental conditions as he marked his England Lions debut with a century against Sri Lanka A Emerging Players in Colombo.
Robson’s 120 from the top of the order leaves the tourists 278 runs to the good with five second-innings wickets remaining heading into the final day.
This week’s warm-up match marks Robson’s first taste of competitive cricket in Sri Lanka – something he was very keen to experience.
“I’ve been here for a little bit of training before but this was the first time I’ve actually played in a proper game,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“It was obviously a good experience and that’s what this trip is all about – we’re here to play well and we’re here to try and win, but as much as anything I was looking forward to getting out here and seeing what it was like against the spinners.
“One guy (Tharindu Kaushal) had a little bit of mystery and a few variations but it was really enjoyable.”
Robson eventually fell 10 balls before the close to off-spinner Kaushal, who has seven wickets in the match so far, but Jonny Bairstow is well set on 43 to spearhead the Lions’ victory charge tomorrow.
“I don’t know exactly what the plan is but I imagine we’ll try and bat for a bit longer in the morning and try and get as many as we can,” Robson added.
“Then hopefully if the boys bowl as well as they did in the first innings today then, yeah, we’re a good chance to push for a result.”
The foundations for England’s position of strength were laid by Robson’s fellow debutant Mark Wood.
The Durham seamer completed a five-wicket haul this morning, having bowled superbly in tandem with captain Chris Woakes to dismiss the hosts for 176.
“I was over the moon and a bit relieved,” Wood told ecb.co.uk. “You get a bit tense trying to get that fifth wicket so to get it was a great feeling, in conditions where you might not think it’s great for seam bowling.
“But the pitch actually was pretty good and it went through nicely so I was delighted.
“It’s been very hot and humid and sweaty but the pitches haven’t been anything like I expected so far. I think that might change in the Test matches.”