Buttler brilliance proves in vain
Jos Buttler’s second hundred in three matches was not enough to prevent England Lions from suffering defeat to Sri Lanka A at Kurunegala in the third one-day international.
Already 2-0 up following back-to-back wins in Dambulla, James Taylor’s side would have wrapped up the five-match series with victory today.
Yet although Somerset batsman Buttler, who struck an electrifying unbeaten 102 in the opening game, underpinned a total of 258 for nine with a 130-ball 119 containing 11 fours and a six, the hosts eased to their target with six wickets and 15 balls to spare.
Dimuth Karunaratne and Bhanuka Rajapaksa contributed 94 and 72 respectively for Sri Lanka, and skipper Thilina Kandamby, who has 38 one-day international caps to his name, finished unbeaten on 55.
The Lions made a poor start after winning the toss, losing Joe Root to the third delivery of the match. He was stumped off leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna, who then dismissed Taylor via the same method in his third over.
Buttler took centre stage thereafter, sharing respective stands of 41 with Alex Hales, who made it to 27 before being run out, 56 with Craig Kieswetter - Prasanna’s third victim, and 67 with Jonny Bairstow, the only other batsman to pass 30.
Having brought up his century from 103 deliveries, Buttler finally fell in the 48th over, caught by Karunaratne off seamer Dhanushka Gunathilleke as the Lions’ innings lost momentum.
Sri Lanka’s reply began in even worse fashion than their opponents', Gunathilleke falling lbw to Jade Dernbach for a golden duck.
Fellow opener Mahela Udawatte also went cheaply when he was caught behind off Jack Brooks, but Karunaratne and Rajapaksa shared 132 in less than 23 overs to put Sri Lanka firmly in control.
Their alliance was broken when Rajapaksa was caught by Bairstow off Samit Patel, having collected 11 fours in his 73-ball innings.
Karunaratne was unable to reach three figures and departed to Danny Briggs with his side requiring just 23 for victory.
It was left to Kandamby to apply the finishing touches, the left-hander bringing up his half-century and ending the match with a six off the part-time bowling of Hales.