England Lions halted by storm in warm-up clash

England Lions will hope it’s not a sign of things to come after a spectacular storm halted them on their charge to victory in their warm-up game.

The Lions needed just 28 more to win against Sri Lanka Board President’s XI when lightning sent the players scurrying from the field at De Soysa Stadium in the suburbs of Colombo.

Thunder had been rumbling and heavy rain was falling within minutes, meaning Nick Gubbins, who had hit an unbeaten half century, was not able to get back on the field to try to see the tourists home.

The result was never the focus though in this match as it’s the Lions sole practice match before the first of the two four-day games against Sri Lanka A starts in Kandy on Friday.

And Gubbins, who was stranded on 52, said: “It was good for me to spend some time out there, and if you look through the game I think all of our batsmen and bowlers have got something out of it.

“It’s my first time in the Sub-continent – the camp in Dubai before Christmas was the closest I’d been previously. So it’s a new experience, and I definitely learned lessons from the first innings, when I got out quite cheaply.

“That’s been the aim of the winter, experiencing some new conditions and making myself a better player. I’ve worked really hard with Andy Flower and Graham Thorpe, I was pleased with the way I batted in the second innings of our game against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi, and to come here and put into practice is really pleasing for me.”

The Lions, captained by Keaton Jennings, had put themselves on the front foot by bowling the hosts out cheaply on day one for just 153. Middlesex bowler Tom Helm inflicting the most damage by claiming 3-18.

And the visitors ensured they were in the driving seat with Tom Westley (95) and Liam Livingstone, who scored 84, both punishing the Sri Lanka attack. Livingstone smashed two sixes in his innings as the Lions gained a 126-run advantage, all out for 279.

The hosts fought back though with opener Ron Chandraguptha battling his way to 91 and wicketkeeper Leo Fransisco hitting one six in his 72. The tourists didn’t give up though and Ollie Rayner picked up 3-55 with Sam Curran collecting 2-34 as a crucial last stand of 29 took the Sri Lankans to 324.

That left the Lions chasing 199 to win the match and Jennings and Haseeb Hameed got them off to a steady start, putting on an opening stand of 51 before Hameed was trapped lbw by Malinda Pushpakumara.

Jennings had only contributed seven to that partnership, but the skipper accelerated after tea, crunching a six over mid wicket and scoring three of his seven fours with the reverse sweep that famously brought him a century on Test debut in Mumbai before Christmas.

He retired a single short of 50 to give the other batsmen some time in the middle in a pressure situation – and it was Gubbins who made the most of that opportunity, hitting two sixes but ultimately the storm proved the winner.

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