Openers Upul Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne both struck centuries as Sri Lanka A secured a draw in the second ‘Test’ against England Lions at Dambulla.
The tourists amassed an imposing first-innings lead of 316 thanks largely to James Taylor’s double-century on day three and harboured hopes of claiming the 10 wickets they needed today to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
But Tharanga and Karunaratne had other ideas, scoring 116 and 156 respectively, as a fine batting wicket remained true throughout before the teams shook hands with Sri Lanka on 357 for three.
The opening duo survived a few close shaves yesterday evening to lay the foundations for their exploits, reaching 72 without loss at stumps.
And they made hay as the Lions attack toiled away with little to encourage them.
Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions gamely asked questions with the short ball but Karunaratne answered in an assured and positive manner.
Tharanga was the more watchful of the pair and retreated into his shell when a misjudgement facing off-spinner Ollie Rayner almost saw him fall at mid-on.
It was a rare moment of encouragement for England’s spinners, who had to wait until Simon Kerrigan bowled Karunaratne after tea for their first moment of success.
Scott Borthwick had a number of leg-before appeals rejected from his leg-breaks and the Durham man looked on agonisingly as Tharanga feathered an attempted cut past Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.
The stroke would prove to be Tharanga’s downfall as he chopped on to hand captain Chris Woakes’ the Lions’ only breakthrough of the first two sessions, concluding a 228-run opening stand.
Karunaratne found another willing ally in Chaturanga de Silva, adding a further 102. Sri Lanka’s number three finished with an unbeaten 59 to his name.
The only further breakthrough came courtesy of day-two centurion Sam Robson’s occasional leg-spin, Varun Chopra pouching the catch to remove Madawa Warnapura for 16.
England Lions will look to seal a series win when the rubber concludes in Colombo next week.