Sri Lanka edged a nerve-jangling Under-19s World Cup encounter by one wicket as England fell just short in Dubai.
Will Rhodes’ side had begun their campaign with a comprehensive win over hosts the United Arab Emirates on Friday.
That they even had a chance of another triumph today, after being reduced to 43 for four having been asked to bat, was thanks to Jonathan Tattersall’s fine 95.
However, a total of 230 for nine proved insufficient as Sadeera Samarawickrama’s 82 laid the platform for a Sri Lanka triumph.
It was far from plain sailing but, despite England grabbing crucial wickets at key intervals, Tilaksha Malshan’s 42-ball 43, AK Tyronne’s 20 and Anuk Fernando's 10 not out saw Sri Lanka over the line in dramatic fashion.
Skipper Will Rhodes said: “Tattersall played magnificently to get us to a respectable score that we could bowl at.
“To lose by one wicket is quite devastating really. It was quite nerve-wracking at the end. We took it right to the end and that’s all we could do.
“New Zealand will be another good challenge but we can take confidence from this. I am sure we will play well on Tuesday.”
Such drama was hardly expected when Sri Lanka set of like a steam train in pursuit of 231.
It was Samarawickrama, an eye-catching opener who is excellent on the drive, who particularly caught the eye in a quick, 46-run opening stand.
Rob Sayer sparked a turnaround, though, when trapping Hashan Dumindu and dangerman Kusal Mendis lbw with successive balls in his opening over – albeit with the latter scalp fortuitous given the ball appeared to be heading down leg.
Yet England were not fussed, especially when Rhodes had Minod Banuka taken at first slip on the drive in the next over.
Priyamal Perera and Binura Fernando chipped in with handy contributions, only to fall at inopportune times. The former was ousted by bustling paceman Jack Winslade while the latter was run out by Tattersall.
Then came the prized scalp of Samarawickrama, the opener sying an attempted pull off Josh Shaw – who quickly ousted Harsha Rajapaksha later in the over.
Yet Malshan responded in fine style, hitting four fours and one six to put Sri Lanka back on track.
With nine needed off 18 balls, he struck Dominic Sibley straight to cover to leave his side nine down. But Anuk kept his cool thereafter as a brilliant game ended in suitable fashion.
Earlier, Tattersall’s fine knock had dragged England to a respectable total after Rajapaksha and Anuk had combined in fine style.
The duo grabbed two wickets apiece in their initial spells, Rajapaksha castling Harry Finch and Ed Barnard, who starred in England’s win over the UAE, and Anuk getting rid of Sibley and Ryan Higgins.
Tattersall responded in fine style amid Rhodes contributing 38 before Joe Clarke and Sayer took England to 230.
Ultimately, though, their valiant efforts proved in vain as Sri Lanka continued their perfect start to the competition.