By Dominic Farrell
Captain Chris Woakes conceded England Lions’ final-day victory drive was a thankless task against Sri Lanka A in Dambulla.
James Taylor’s double-century on day three left the tourists chasing 10 wickets for an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match rubber.
But the pitch continued to resemble something of a batsman’s paradise as Sri Lanka openers Upul Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne both struck centuries before the hosts progressed to 357 for three when the teams shook hands.
“It was really tough,” said Woakes, who claimed his side’s first wicket of the day when Tharanga chopped on during the afternoon session. “The wicket just seemed to get better and better as the game went on, to be honest.
“We stuck to our task. It was a great effort in the first place to bowl them out for under 300, so that was a big positive going into the second innings but the wicket just got better and better and unfortunately we couldn’t force a win.”
Following Durham seamer Graham Onions’ first-innings heroics, England hoped for spinners Simon Kerrigan, Ollie Rayner and Scott Borthwick to come to the fore second time around.
Unfortunately, it was left to Kerrigan to claim the trio’s solitary success by castling Karunaratne for 156, but Woakes insisted the surface did no favours to any style of bowling.
“I thought they bowled okay,” he said. “Obviously we’d have liked them to bowl a bit better and get 10 wickets but the wicket didn’t really help them whatsoever.
“There was a little bit of spin there but it was very slow and their left-handers played it very well, so credit to their guys.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t to be today but we’re in a good position going back to Colombo, so hopefully we can do the business there."
And having twice opened the bowling alongside Onions, it is a track the Warwickshire all-rounder will certainly be pleased to see the back of.
“There was nothing whatsoever,” Woakes added. “On the first morning, losing the toss was a bit of a nightmare for me but I thought we stuck to our plans well.
“To bowl them out for under 300 was a great effort. It gave us a little bit of a sniff .
“We’re in a good position; we’re 1-0 up in the series so I’m still happy.”