Taylor stars before Lions falter
James Taylor led by example in his first innings as England Lions captain, but a late collapse saw Sri Lanka A claim a share of the honours on the opening day at Scarborough.
Leicestershire batsman Taylor, 21, top-scored with 76 after choosing to bat first and was one of four home batsmen to register a half-century.
Alex Hales and Jonathan Bairstow each contributed exactly 50, while Samit Patel added a fluent 52 from 55 deliveries.
Taylor and Patel carried the Lions to 275 for five, but they subsequently subsided to 299 all out as off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake ripped through the tail.
Senanayake finished with fine figures of 5-47 from 17 overs and Sri Lanka had reduced their arrears to 272 by stumps as they reached 27 without loss in reply.
Taylor said: "It's nice for me personally to get some runs but more importantly the partnerships with Jonny Bairstow and Samit Patel helped us recover from 100 for four and post a challenging first-innings score.
"There is plenty of confidence in the side and we're looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow and hopefully taking a few early wickets and putting the Sri Lankans under a bit of pressure.
"Of course there's plenty for us all to play for individually during the match, as there is every time we play for the Lions, but we all want to beat Sri Lanka A convincingly this week."
With Northamptonshire seamer Jack Brooks missing out on a place in the final XI, there were four debutants in the Lions line-up today in the shape of Hales, Joe Root, Scott Borthwick and Stuart Meaker.
Root mustered only 10 before he was trapped lbw by Nilanka Premaratne, but Hales was soon into his stride and struck eight boundaries on his way to a 74-ball fifty.
However, the powerful Nottinghamshire opener fell to the next ball he faced as Premaratne induced an edge through to wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva and the hosts lost two further wickets prior to lunch.
Ravi Bopara was caught behind for 19 off Kanishka Alvitigala and Craig Kieswetter became Senanayake’s first victim, having failed to score.
Taylor and Bairstow repaired the damage with a fifth-wicket partnership of 107, with the former striking two superb sixes en route to his half-century, which came off 103 deliveries.
Bairstow took just 78 balls to reach the same landmark, with 10 fours, but he departed in the penultimate over of the afternoon session when he was caught by Sachithra Serasinghe off Kosala Kulasekara.
The wicket looked to have done little to disrupt the Lions as Patel went on to dominate a sixth-wicket partnership of 68 with Taylor.
Senanayake soon took centre stage, however, claiming four of the last five wickets to fall as the tourists launched a determined fightback.
Taylor fell leg before to Serasinghe amid the carnage, having delivered another classy exhibition of his abilities.
Sri Lanka’s openers were left with a tricky seven-over spell to negotiate, but made it through to the close unscathed, with Malinda Warnapura thumping four fours en route to 22 not out from 25 deliveries.