Lions ride on Root 66
Debutant Joe Root compiled a valuable 66 as England Lions attempted to battle their way out of trouble on a rain-interrupted third day of their tour match against Sri Lanka A at Scarborough.
The hosts conceded a first-innings lead of 90 this morning when Sri Lanka’s tail added 60 to their overnight score of 329 for eight.
However, Root wiped out the deficit in tandem with opening partner Alex Hales, who struck 42, and then added a further 45 with Ravi Bopara in just eight overs.
Both Root and Bopara fell in quick succession during an elongated evening session, but captain James Taylor and Craig Kieswetter shared 39 to guide the Lions to stumps on 182 for three.
They lead by 92 heading into the final day, with Taylor unbeaten on 15 and Kieswetter having made 24.
Rain delayed the start of play by 45 minutes this morning and further showers forced a short stoppage after just 25 deliveries.
The Lions attack were frustrated on the resumption as Sachithra Senanayake and Kanishka Alvitigala took their ninth-wicket partnership to 61.
Both batsmen enjoyed moments of fortune, with James Harris, who claimed three wickets yesterday, particularly unfortunate not to find the outside edge on several occasions.
However, there were also a number of authoritative shots as the pair kept the scoreboard ticking over at a healthy rate.
It took the introduction of Stuart Meaker to bring an end to the innings.
The Surrey paceman had Alvitigala caught behind for 36 in his second over of the day and accounted for Senanayake, who reached 38, by the same method in his next set of six to finish with figures of 3-37.
By that stage, however, Sri Lanka had established a healthy advantage, leaving the Lions with work to do when they began their second innings after lunch.
Root and Hales were relatively untroubled in taking the score to 29 before yet more rain sent the players back to the pavilion shortly before 3pm.
Play briefly recommenced after a delay of almost an hour, only for bad light to cause a third stoppage soon after. Tea was duly taken before the teams returned at 4:30pm.
An assured Root brought up the Lions’ 50 with a powerful pull to the midwicket fence off Kosala Kulasekara, while Hales looked to be in good touch as he punched the same bowler through the covers for four.
The Nottinghamshire opener then lofted Senanayake over wide mid-off for the first six of the innings, although he was fortunate to see an inside edge sneak past the stumps for four more in the off-spinner’s next over.
It wasn’t long before the Lions moved into the lead, courtesy of a horrendous delivery from Alvitigala that bounced over the head of wicketkeeper Kushal Janith Perera for five wides.
However, Hales fell for 42 with the score on 98 as Senanayake, bowling from around the wicket, gained a regulation edge to Dimuth Karunaratne at first slip.
Sri Lanka thought they had Bopara caught down the leg side off Kulasekara moments later, but umpire Nick Cook remained unmoved.
Root then moved to 50, from 95 deliveries, yet he almost fell in similar fashion to Hales as a thick outside edge narrowly evaded a diving Karunaratne.
With dark clouds gathering once again, Bopara picked up convincing fours on either side of the wicket off Kulasekara.
Another brief stoppage followed before the Lions lost wickets in successive overs.
Bopara became the second batsman to be caught at slip off Senanayake, having raced to 25, and Root then picked out mid-on off Sachithra Serasinghe to fall for 66.
Kieswetter wasted little time in making an impression as he launched Serasinghe over midwicket for six early in his innings.
With his side in a precarious position, Taylor, who top-scored with 76 in the Lions first innings, was understandably more subdued, although he did loft Senanayake over mid-on for four to move into double figures.
There was a brief scare when the skipper was rapped on the pads by the returning Alvitigala late in the day, but Sri Lanka’s appeals fell on deaf ears.