The Lions aka England A defeat Sri Lanka A at Pallekelle

ESPNcricinfo staff, 20 February 2017, reporting on the First Test

England Lions 316 (Westley 97, Roland-Jones 82, Livingstone 59, Pushpakumara 4-97) and 215 (Perera 5-73, Pushpakumara 4-77) beat Sri Lanka A 167 (Weerakkody 68, Roland-Jones 4-51) and 169 (Jayasundera 64*) by 195 runs

The Curran brothers followed their important second-innings runs by sharing six wickets as England Lions completed a comprehensive 195-run victory in the opening four-day match against Sri Lanka A.

aadilruwan Dilruwan Peera and  aa-m-pushpakumaraMalinda Pushpakumara may have shone as bowlers… But Tom Westley aa-tom-westley, T Roland-Jones and a-sam-curranSam Curran out-batted and utbowled the Sri Lankan A squad 

The contest was over shortly after lunch on the final day as Tom Curran ended with 3 for 35 and Sam Curran 3 for 21. The previous day they had added 62 to stretch the Lions lead. There were also two wickets for Middlesex offspinner Ollie Rayner.

Sri Lanka A offered minimal resistance, expect for opener Udara Jayasundera who carried his bat with 64 off 166 deliveries, although a final-wicket stand of 54 delayed the end a little.

“Everyone has chipped in,” Keaton Jennings, the England Lions captain, said. “As a whole team performance it was absolutely brilliant. It’s a good bowling attack to captain, with a lot of variety, and a really good bunch of guys to captain as well. Those runs we got lower down the order in the first innings were very important in setting up the game.”

When Sri Lanka resumed on 41 for 2, Tom Curran gave the Lions an ideal start to the final day when had Roshen Silva caught behind in the first over. Tom Helm also produced a first-over trick, for the second time in the match, by surprising Charith Asalanka with extra bounce.

Rayner removed the key wicket of captain Dhananjaya de Silva and also claimed Dilruwan Perera as the Sri Lanka slide continued before the Currans almost finished things off in double-quick time. Sam Curran was on a hat-trick with the No. 11, Asitha Fernando, on strike but he survived and alongside Jayasundera played out the extra half hour the Lions claimed to try and wrap up the victory before lunch.

However, it did not take long after the break until Fernando picked out Nick Gubbins at mid-on to give Sam Curran his third.

Despite the convincing margin of victory, Jennings pinpointed the top-order batting as an area for improvement ahead of the second four-day game in Dambulla. In the first innings the Lions’ last two wickets added 106 and in the second the last four provided 130.

“We all know our roles and responsibilities, and as a top order batter you want to score runs,” he said. “Not everybody can score runs all the time. But you’ve got to make sure you try and take care of that role, show the grit to get through those tough periods and get runs.

“From a bowling point of view as well, there’s a few plans we can come up with now we’ve seen a few of their guys. That’s the exciting thing, the room for improvement in the second game in Dambulla. But this was a very good team performance – very enjoyable.”

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