By Dominic Farrell
James Taylor knows he did his Test prospects no harm at all with a magnificent double-century for England Lions against Sri Lanka A.
Unfazed by sleeping on a score of 99, the Nottinghamshire batsman brought up three figures from the first ball he face this morning and proceeded to put the home attack to the sword.
The Lions eventually declared on 605 for seven and are, in all probability, 10 wickets away from claiming an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series on the fourth and final day.
But following his career-best 242, Taylor knows there might be greater rewards in store as England rebuild from this winter’s Ashes disappointment.
“I am absolutely over the moon," he told ecb.co.uk. "I'd be lying if I said I came here not knowing it was a big tour for myself and everybody.
"Everybody is vying for a place in the Test team. It was a big tour for all of us and it was nice that I could get a few crucial runs.
"It is nice to come out, with a bit of pressure on my shoulders, when I had to score runs. Fingers crossed, I can get a few more in this series.”
Taylor’s navigation of that pressure at the resumption bordered on nonchalance, but the 24-year-old took a pragmatic view of his overnight score.
"It was alright - 99 is better than no runs,” he explained. I was just happy I had some runs behind me.
"I was looking to go big to be fair. It was obviously a decent wicket so I wanted a big score. I was happy to be on 99.
"When I am in, I like to go big. I know there is a low score around the corner.”
Sri Lanka A openers Upal Tharanga and Dimuth Karunartne demonstrated the extent to which a fine batting strip is in use at Dambulla as they progressed to 72 without loss at the close.
Taylor’s exploits means he is more familiar with the surface that most and he predicts a day of toil tomorrow if the Lions are to get over the line.
He added: “It is obviously a good wicket and we need 10 wickets to win the series. We created a few opportunities tonight but they have got some good batsmen.
“It is going to be a tough day tomorrow but we have some quality bowlers in our ranks as we've shown in the series so far.”