Pushpakumara 13 helps seal dramatic win

Sri Lanka A 548 (Karunaratne 212, Samarawickrama 185, de Silva 74, Rayner 4-164) and 90 for 7 (T Curran 4-38) beat England Lions 353 (Livingstone 105, Westley 68, Pushpakumara 8-127) and 284 (Livingstone 140*, Foakes 54, Pushpakumara 5-78) by three wickets

File photo – Dhananjaya de Silva helped lead Sri Lanka A to a series-levelling win © AFP

Malinda Pushpakumara claimed a 13-wicket haul and then hit the winning runs as Sri Lanka A completed a dash to victory in Dambulla to square the unofficial Test series with England Lions.

Needing 90 to win during the final session, having been defied for much of the day by Liam Livingstone‘s second hundred in the match, Sri Lanka A lost wickets regularly but did enough to hold off the Lions’ unlikely tilt at snatching victory. Udara Jayasundera made 32 off 36 and Dhananjaya de Silva, Sri Lanka A’s captain, 23 off 13 to bring the target in sight before Pushpakumara finished the job after a late wobble.

The Lions began the final day still 163 runs in arrears and were grateful for Livingstone’s painstaking, unbeaten 140; in all he batted for seven-and-a-half hours in the match, becoming only the second batsman after Kevin Pietersen to score a century in each innings of a first-class match for England Lions (or their predecessors, England A and England B).

Ben Foakes was the only other Lions batsman to pass 20, though, as the Sri Lanka A spinners worked their way through the order. Pushpakumara claimed 5 for 78 to go with his eight-wicket haul in the first innings, finally leaving Livingstone stranded when he bowled Jack Leach for 1 after a dogged 12-over, last-wicket stand.

Tom Curran threatened to spark an upset, taking the first four wickets to fall. Sri Lanka A were 34 for 3 when first-innings centurion Sadeera Samarawickrama was dismissed but Jayasundera and de Silva added 34 in 4.2 overs to regain the momentum.

The stand was broken by Curran and then Sri Lanka A lost three wickets for four runs to Leach and Ollie Rayner to leave them 82 for 7. When Dimuth Karunaratne, batting down at No. 6 after making a career-best 212 at opener in the first innings, was caught behind off Rayner, Foakes had ten victims in the match – including a couple of stumpings off Leach – to set a new Lions record. But with the skies remaining clear, Pushpakumara and Jeffrey Vandersay got Sri Lanka A over the line with five overs to spare.

After the Lions had resumed on 32 for 2, Vandersay made the opening breakthrough by bowling Tom Westley for 12. Keaton Jennings was then stumped off Pushpakumara, giving the left-armer his tenth in the match, but Livingstone and Foakes combined to hold up the home side during a partnership of 107 in 36 overs.

Foakes fell to the final ball before lunch, edging Pushpakumara to slip, and the Curran brothers were both dismissed in single figures with the Lions still in deficit. Livingstone continued to play with authority, however, reaching his fourth first-class hundred off 156 balls, with 11 fours and a six.

In partnership with Toby Roland-Jones, Livingstone eked the Lions into a lead, before Rayner and Leach helped add valuable extra runs but with extra time available to make up for overs lost on days two and three, Sri Lanka A were not to be denied.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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