Lions roar to series win
Joe Root compiled an unbeaten 110 and Jos Buttler provided further evidence of his talent with a blistering 31-ball 64 as England Lions secured a series-clinching 117-run victory over Sri Lanka A in Colombo.
Root and Buttler, twice a centurion himself earlier in the five-match rubber, were chiefly responsible for guiding the tourists to an imposing total of 330 for six after captain James Taylor had chosen to bat first.
Having come in at three, Root struck 12 fours during his 118-ball stay, while the explosive Buttler helped himself to 10 boundaries - half of them maximums - as the Lions accelerated rapidly in the final 15 overs.
Alex Hales and Taylor contributed 46 and 41 respectively, while Jonny Bairstow followed Buttler’s lead with three late sixes en route to 27 from 12 balls.
Sri Lanka then lost wickets at regular intervals to be dismissed for 213 in reply. Spinners Danny Briggs and Samit Patel did much of the damage with respective figures of 3-27 and 3-55.
After letting a 2-0 lead slip, the Lions were clearly out to make amends today and it was not long before their batsmen took charge.
Hales and Patel shared 51 inside nine overs before the latter fell to seamer Tharanga Lakshitha, who finished with 2-64 from eight overs.
An aggressive Hales was then removed by leg-spinner Malinga Bandara but Root and Taylor laid a solid platorm with a third-wicket stand of 86.
Taylor and Craig Kieswetter fell in successive overs, yet this merely set the stage for Buttler, who proceeded to take apart Sri Lanka’s attack in thrilling fashion.
His 97-run alliance with Root, who went on to reach three figures from 115 deliveries, spanned less than 10 overs and there was further misery to come for the hosts as Bairstow and Chris Woakes also cleared the ropes in the closing stages.
Sri Lanka also began briskly, only to then lose two wickets in the space of three overs. Dimuth Karunaratne, on 23, was caught behind off Jack Brooks, who subsequently ran out Dhanushka Gunathilleke for one.
It was Patel who claimed the next three scalps, the left-arm spinner winning an lbw decision against Ashan Priyanjan before bowling Mahela Udawatte for 52 and having Bhanuka Rajapaksa caught by Briggs.
Home skipper Thilina Kandamby was then run out by Briggs, who swiftly ran through the tail with the aid of Brooks.