Lions roar back into contention
England Lions staged a determined fightback with the ball after Sri Lanka A had dominated much of the second day of their match at Scarborough.
The tourists looked set to establish a significant first-innings lead when they reached 292 for three in reply to their opponents’ 299 all out.
However, they then lost five wickets in the final eight overs of play to reach stumps on 329 for eight.
James Harris and Jade Dernbach were the pick of the Lions attack with three wickets apiece, while the latter also effected the run-out of Sachithra Serasinghe.
Yet it was the batsman who flourished in the main, with skipper Kaushal Silva striking 89 and Bhanuka Rajapaksa adding 76 in a fourth-wicket stand of 147.
Dernbach made the first breakthrough for the home side today when he trapped Malinda Warnapura lbw for 34 with the score on 60.
Lahiru Thirimanne followed to Stuart Meaker for 22, but Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne were able to play out the remainder of the morning session.
It wasn’t until the eighth over after lunch that their partnership of 72 was broken as Harris had Karunaratne caught by Jonathan Bairstow.
At that point, the Lions had realistic hopes of claiming a first-innings advantage, but they soon evaporated as Silva and Rajapaksa settled into their stride.
The captain brought up his half-century from 87 balls prior to tea, with his partner reaching the landmark from one additional delivery after the interval.
Yet the Lions refused to throw in the towel and gained their rewards with the second new ball.
Dernbach had Rajapaksa, who had added two sixes to his eight fours, caught by skipper James Taylor before Harris found the edge of Silva’s bat to give wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter his first scalp of the innings.
Kushal Janith Perera was also caught behind off Dernbach, who then ran out Serasinghe before Harris rounded off the day by winning an lbw verdict against Kosala Kulasekara.
At the close, Harris said: "I'm pleased with my performance today, the ball's coming out well.
"We bowled to a plan, stuck to our guns, and we brought ourselves back into it at the end of the day.
"If we can bowl them out quickly tomorrow and then post a good total, we'll have a very good chance of winning."