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Terrific Taylor doubles up

James Taylor struck his highest first-class score as England Lions piled on the runs against Sri Lanka A in the second ‘Test’ at Dambulla.

Having begun the day on 99 not out, Taylor took a single delivery to reach three figures and did not look like being dislodged thereafter.

His unbeaten 242, complemented in particular by Liam Plunkett's aggressive 76 not out, took the Lions to a first-innings total of 605 for seven.

Trailing by 316, Sri Lanka responded impressively thereafter yet still have a mountain to climb on a final day in which they will resume on 72 without loss.

For England, the aim now is to wrap up victory tomorrow and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-game series.

Signs of a restless night on nervous 99 were difficult to find in the morning as Taylor reached his hundred at the earliest opportunity.

From that point on, as he had last night, the diminutive batsman looked in complete control as he varied the pace of his innings throughout.

In all, Taylor faced 330 deliveries, hitting 30 fours and two sixes in a substantial innings that will no doubt have caught the eye of England’s selectors.

He was well supported, too, by a series of useful contributions from England’s lower-middle order.

Jonny Bairstow played a couple of punch strokes en route to 27, ousted eventually by Tharindu Kaushal.

Skipper Chris Woakes adopted a cautious approach yet still put on 53 with Taylor, his 25 ended by Vishwa Fernando.

But it was Scott Borthwick and, in particular, Plunkett who offered the best assistance.

The former, having scored runs in the opening encounter, found the rope seven times in 39 balls as he hit 35.

He ultimately became Kaushal’s second victim of the day, and fourth of the innings; however, that scalp merely heralded the arrival of Plunkett.

Runs and wickets on this tour have left the Yorkshire all-rounder brimming with confidence, and it showed as he hit seven fours and three sixes in a stunning, 56-ball innings.

The only blot on a fine day for the tourists came when Sri Lanka A’s openers served notice as to the quality of the surface.

A couple of loud caught-behind appeals were turned down, yet there was plenty of intent shown by Upul Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne as they began the hosts’ quest for a draw in style.

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