England pull off big chase
England made it two warm-up wins from two ahead of the Test series by chasing 359 to beat the Sri Lanka Development XI by four wickets in Colombo.
Following generous bowling in the second half of the morning session, the hosts declared on 199 for four at lunch to leave Andrew Strauss’ side a minimum of 64 overs.
First-innings centurions Strauss and Jonathan Trott dropped down the order and were not required as the tourists won with 20 balls to spare.
Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior and Samit Patel hit fifties before Graeme Swann completed victory with some lusty blows.
The result leaves England generally in fine fettle ahead of the two-Test rubber, which begins on Monday at Galle, save for the news that Bopara is unlikely to be able to bowl having strained his left side in the first innings.
The tourists allowed Stuart Broad to rest his left ankle when the Development XI resumed on 44 for one.
Tim Bresnan was first to strike, winning an lbw decision against Dilshan Munaweera with his third ball of the day to remove the opener for 33.
Steven Finn got in on the action nine deliveries later, Kushal Perera edging to wicketkeeper Prior, who again went part of the time without pads.
Swann was launched into the stands by Thilina Kandamby, but bowled the left-hander soon after.
From there on England encouraged their opponents to score quickly and declare. Ian Bell was handed a rare bowl before Trott and Patel also donated plenty of runs to Angelo Perera’s free-hitting cause.
Perera was the chief beneficiary of the declaration bowling. He was unbeaten on 90 from 70 balls and shared an unbroken stand of 122 in 15 overs with Kaushal Lokuarachchi, who made 40.
England opened the batting with Pietersen and Bell, the two top-order players most in need of time at the crease.
Things started well, with Pietersen collecting three fours down the ground in the first two overs and Bell hitting two drives to the cover boundary.
However, Bell went in the fifth over when he edged down leg to be caught behind off Vishwa Fernando.
Bopara survived a well-aimed yorker first up and benefited from a couple of mis-fields before seeing a return catch put down by Fernando with 10 to his name.
Pietersen, meanwhile, took just 49 balls to register his half-century, but was bowled for 52 by leg-spinner Lokuarachchi.
Bopara had started to settle nicely at the other end, particularly against the spinners, and was gifted his fifty with four overthrows.
He and Prior batted beyond tea, but Bopara was caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Sajeera Weerakoon for a steady 66.
Prior had taken on the scoring burden by then, racing to 50 in just 36 balls, and his 10th boundary was a graceful cover drive.
Patel was happy to play second fiddle to Prior, who hit a six and two fours in three successive deliveries from Weerakoon.
His fun ended on 84 when he was bowled off the inside edge by Fernando to leave England 248 for four.
Bresnan’s stay was relatively brief as he was holed out long-leg off Tharanga Lakshitha.
Patel became the fourth man to make 50 in the innings and with 10 overs left there were 68 needed for victory.
He started to open his shoulders, launching sixes off Weerakoon and Lakshitha before the latter upended his off stump on 72.
But Broad and Swann, whose unbeaten 31 occupied just 12 balls, saw their side over the line.