Kieswetter ton lubricates Lions win
England Lions doubled their lead in the one-day series with Sri Lanka A thanks principally to Craig Kieswetter’s swift unbeaten hundred at Dambulla.
Kieswetter’s 99-ball 112 not out, including six sixes and as many fours, underpinned the tourists’ 293 for nine from 50 overs on a used pitch after James Taylor won the toss.
The Lions were in a spot of bother at 140 for five in the 31st when Jos Buttler, who flayed an unbeaten 102 from 56 deliveries in a total of 335 for five during Friday’s 68-run win at the same venue, fell for a 34-ball 40.
However, Kieswetter added 100 inside 13 overs with Samit Patel, who contributed 43. The wicketkeeper-batsman went on to leave the hosts another tough chase in hot conditions.
Dimuth Karunaratne and Mahela Udawatte gave Sri Lanka A a solid base by reaching 60 without loss in the mandatory powerplay, but departed soon after.
Further wickets at regular intervals - left-arm spinners Patel and Danny Briggs took three each - limited Thilina Kandamby’s side.
Despite Kushal Perera’s 59, they were all out in the 46th over to give the Lions - who can seal the five-game series on Tuesday at Kurunegala - a 67-run win.
Earlier, Joe Root struggled to get going and was caught behind off left-arm seamer Thilan Thushara for eight from 24 balls. Opening partner Alex Hales found runs easier to come by, but was bowled by Suraj Randiv’s off-spin for 23.
Jonny Bairstow soon followed, the first of two lbw victims for leg-spinner Malinga Bandara, who made Taylor the next wicket - for 25.
Buttler picked up where he left off on Friday with four fours and two maximums before he was trapped in front by another leggie, Seekkuge Prasanna.
Kieswetter and Patel, two of the quartet along with Jade Dernbach and Chris Woakes added to the squad that toured Bangladesh, rebuilt until Thushara had the latter held at extra-cover.
Woakes and Briggs, who hit 11 from eight deliveries, were caught in consecutive overs from paceman Kosala Kulasekara and, after Kieswetter reached three figures in the penultimate over, Randiv snared Nathan Buck from the last ball of the innings.
Seamer Buck ended the hosts’ opening stand by trapping Udawatte in front for 40 from 29 balls, featuring seven fours. In the next over Briggs, who returned figures of 3-31 from 10, snared Karunaratne likewise for 21.
Briggs broke through again to remove Bhanuka Rajapaksa courtesy of Bairstow’s tumbling catch and - after Patel bowled Malinda Warnapura for 14 - accounted for Kandamby on 21 to leave Sri Lanka A teetering at 130 for five in the 29th over.
Perera and Kulasekara rallied with a stand of 65, but Buck bowled the former for 26 and Randiv shortly followed to Patel in the same manner.
Off-spinner Root importantly had Perera caught and bowled with a spectacular running take before Patel made it three wickets in as many overs by dismissing Thushara thanks to Hales’ towering catch on the boundary. Root bowled Prasanna to complete victory, leaving last man Bandara unbeaten on 12.