Sri Lanka A took a 2-0 lead in the five-match one-day series against England Lions despite the gutsiest innings yet of Liam Livingstone’s prolific tour.
The Lancashire batsman, who scored a century in each innings of the four-day match in Dambulla, hobbled to 94 as he suffered from severe cramp in both calves, despite regular rehydration beneath the shade of an umbrella provided by twelfth man Graeme White.
He was last out, brilliantly caught at deep mid-wicket as he aimed to reach three figures with a six, to end a disappointing Lions batting performance in which only two other players – Ben Duckett (59) and Joe Clarke (26) – reached double figures.
Livingstone was unable to take the field when the Sri Lankans launched their reply as he continued to receive treatment. He had been the Lions’ most economical bowler in the opening one-dayer on Thursday, taking one for 28 in 10 overs of tidy off-spin, and that all-round ability led to a change in the balance of the team, with Daniel Bell-Drummond playing as an extra specialist batsman in place of Toby Roland-Jones.
The Cumbrian limped out for the sixth over and came on to bowl the 12th. But it was clear from the first ball that he was struggling. Danushka Gunathilaka launched the second for six, and Livingstone returned to the pavilion after completing the over.
The Lions will be desperate to get him fit for the third match of the series in Kurunegala on Monday, as they need to win to keep the series alive.
This was a chastening defeat, as Gunathilaka and Kusal Perera were on course for a 10-wicket win until bad light and rain stopped play just before 4pm.
Gunathilaka, a 25-year-old left-hander who has 16 ODI caps for Sri Lanka and featured against England last summer, ended unbeaten on 121 from 88 balls with 12 fours and six sixes – and they only needed 17 runs with 22 overs remaining when the weather intervened.
The Lions had found batting a far trickier business after Keaton Jennings won his fourth consecutive toss as captain and chose to bat.
Jennings, who had top-scored in the first game with 64, chipped a catch to mid-wicket in the third over. Bell-Drummond was trapped lbw in the fourth, but Livingstone joined Duckett in a counter-attacking third-wicket stand of 81 in 10 overs.
Duckett reached 50 from only 38 balls with his ninth four and also hit a six. But after he was athletically caught at mid-off by Lahiru Madushanka off the international veteran Thisara Perera, the Lions were unable to recapture that momentum.
Tom Alsop holed out to long-on, although Clarke and Livingstone then played sensibly to add 66 for the fifth wicket.
But Clarke, immediately after driving his first boundary off the 40th ball he had faced, was bowled by Sri Lanka’s captain Milinda Siriwardana giving himself room to cut.
Ben Foakes, Craig Overton, James Fuller and Ollie Rayner formed a procession of lbw victims as they struggled against a variety of spinners plus Madushanka’s skiddy medium pace, with Livingstone unable to do much more than take slow singles at the other end. He did launch one six over long-off to move into the nineties, but that was a last act of defiance.