By Rob Barnett
James Taylor was happy enough with England Lions’ day-one score versus Sri Lanka A and particularly pleased with his and Moeen Ali’s partnership.
Taylor and Moeen smoothly shared 92 for the fourth wicket, but the latter’s downfall soon after tea to left-arm spinner Chaturanga de Silva for a 60-ball 62 sparked a slide that saw the tourists reach 299 for nine at stumps.
Although Taylor was unfortunate to be given out caught behind for 70 against off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal, he was upbeat about his alliance with Moeen that put the Lions on top in the afternoon session.
“We put on a good partnership and went at a good lick as well, which was nice. I love batting with him; he’s a great guy and a serious player as well,” Taylor said after the opening day of the three ’Tests’.
In addition to Taylor’s frustrating demise, Jonny Bairstow was lbw for nought to a high-bouncing ball in the over after Moeen’s wicket. Captain Chris Woakes then became seamer Dhammika Prasad’s second scalp in two overs.
Scott Borthwick’s dogged 35 with support from Liam Plunket and Graham Onions at least kept the innings going through to stumps.
“That happens against sub-continent teams. Once you lose a couple they go ‘bang, bang’ and get right on top of you,” Taylor added.
“We held our composure. We needed to be calm in those periods and we did that to a certain extent. Obviously we lost a few too many wickets, but we’re in the game and have got a good total on the board.”
The Pallekele pitch uncharacteristically had a fine covering of grass, which meant for slow scoring in the morning session when opening batsmen Alex Lees and Sam Robson dug in.
Varun Chopra scored more freely during his 58 before Taylor and Moeen made hay.
“It’s a great pitch to be fair. It’s lovely to bat on, especially when you’re going,” Taylor enthused.
“We had a great partnership there, me and Mo, and, like I said, in the sub-continent things change very quickly and it did this afternoon as we saw.
“I’m reasonably happy with that score. Obviously we would have liked a few more from the position that we were in. We’ve got the runs on the board. Hopefully we can get a few more tomorrow morning and then go hard with the new ball.”