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England square U19 series

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Sixteen-year-old opener Daniel Bell-Drummond scored a wonderful unbeaten 88 to lead England Under-19s to a six-wicket win that tied the Test series with Sri Lanka.

The Kent starlet played with a maturity beyond his tender years after watching his side collapse to 25 for three in pursuit of 221 to win at Scarborough.

Bell-Drummond, who watched all three wickets fall while at the non-striker's end, found a useful ally in the wristy Ateeq Javid, and the pair sahred a match-winning stand of 174 which broke Sri Lankan hearts.

Javid played his part too, scoring 89 before being given out lbw, which paved the way for Jack Manuel to hastily usher England to victory with a succession of powerful sweeps, including a towering six off the first ball he faced.

It seemed appropriate that Bell-Drummond hit the winning run off the 197th ball he faced to conclude an innings which spanned more than four and a half hours.

England needed early wickets at the start of the day if they were to have a chance of forcing a result and Jacob Ball duly obliged with two strikes his as many overs to collect his maiden five-wicket haul.

First he trapped Akshu Fernando leg before then induced Charith Jayampathi to edge behind to Adam Rouse to reduce Sri Lanka to 184 for nine.

With England eyeing a sub-200 chase, last man Sanitha de Mel had other ideas and launched a late blitz which showed total disdain for the bowling.

He flayed six fours in an entertaining 29 from just 23 balls before Lewis Gregory tempted him into one last swipe which proved his undoing.

England made a shcoking start with the bat despite being gifted five wides from the first ball when Sri Lanka captain Chathura Peiris got his radar all wrong and put his cowering slips in danger.

But it was a momentary blip - the next delivery was straight and lured Joe Root into a loose drive which he nicked behind to Denuwan Rajakaruna.

New batsman Lewis Gregory escaped a pair with a streaky boundary but he did not stay long, edging a jaffa from Sanitha de Mel to second slip.

It was soon 25 for three when Luke Wells, scorer of a half-century in the first innings, got a thin tickle on a leg-glance and was smartly caught by a sprawling Rajakaruna.

What Bell-Drummond must have made of it at the non-striker's end is anyone's guess.

The youngest of the England squad, the right-hander rebuilt the chase with Javid.

Displaying an admirably straight bat - crucial on a worn pitch - Bell-Drummond drove elegantly as England slowly regained the initiative. Javid also weighed in, clipping and driving two boundaries in the 18th over to relieve some of the pressure.

England were given a helping hand at lunch when umpire Peter Willey awarded them five penalty runs after he deemed Sri Lanka to have tampered with the ball.

They proved useful bonus runs as the Bell-Drummond-Javid partnership became stifled during the afternoon with leg-spinner Nadeera Rajaguru operating around the wicket with three fielders on the leg-side boundary - a ploy which made play rather attritional.

However, the batsmen remained patient with Javid the first to creep to his half-century, off 111 balls, soon followed by Bell-Drummond, who took 26 more deliveries to reach his maiden fifty for the Under-19s off the last ball before tea.

Bell-Drummond and Javid remained resolute in the final session, which at one point saw a meagre 46 runs gleaned from 20 overs as Sri Lanka attempted to force the batsmen into a mistake.

When Javid did, unwisely trying a reverse-sweep and given out leg before, it was too late to alter the outcome.

England coach Adrian Birrell said: "I'm very pleased. We let ourselves down in the first Test and paid the ultimate price, but here we absorbed pressure, applied pressure to Sri Lanka and the guys showed great character to pull the team through."

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