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Lions draw despite twin centurions

England Lions were forced to settle for a draw in their warm-up game against Sri Lanka A Emerging Players despite hundreds from Jonny Bairstow and Liam Plunkett.

Bairstow and Plunkett, who resumed on 58 and 34 respectively, hit 117 and 114 as the tourists racked up 289 for six declared in their second innings.

Set a nominal 464 to win, Sri Lanka responded impressively with half-centuries from Madawa Warnapura and Chaturanga de Silva earning a share of the spoils.

The duo were unbeaten on 50 and 54 as Sri Lanka reached 177 for four after Simon Kerrigan’s two wickets.

For Plunkett, a career-best score represents the continuation of a turnaround that began following his move to Yorkshire last year.

He had fallen away at Durham and looked a far cry from the promising bowler that made a Test debut as a 20-year-old.

However, the move to the White Rose paid dividends and he is now eyeing further full international honours following his late call-up to the Lions' tour.

“I am at the stage now where I am 28 and last year I fell back in love with cricket,” Plunkett told ecb.co.uk. “After a couple of years that were a bit of a downer, last year I really loved cricket.

“I have been excited to play and I was looking forward to coming out to Sri Lanka with Yorkshire in three or four weeks.

“To come out a bit earlier is good fun. If that happens (earning an England recall) it happens but, as I say, I feel good now.”

A bowling all-rounder, Plunkett looked every bit an international-class batsman today as he struck 11 fours and four sixes in a fine, 140-ball innings.

Bairstow was no less impressive, ending with 14 boundaries – two of which were maximums – that typified typically pugnacious effort.

Their innings were noteworthy yet not enough to secure England victory ahead of the first 'Test' with Sri Lanka A that starts on Wednesday.

However, there were moments of joy for the bowlers on a flat surface with Tymal Mills and James Harris ousting Mahela Udawatte and Shehan Jayasuriya respectively.

Kerrigan, meanwhile, made it five wickets for the match when getting rid of Danushka Gunathilaka and Rumesh Buddika as the Lions ultimately settled for a share of the spoils.

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