Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Clarke Dismissed Cheaply As Lions Lose Opening Odi

Clarke Dismissed Cheaply As Lions Lose Opening Odi

Joe Clarke was dismissed cheaply on his return to action with England Lions who were beaten in the opening ODI with Sri Lanka A in Dambulla today.

The Worcestershire batsman was recalled to the side after being left out of the two four-day 'Tests' against the same opposition.

The 20-year-old came in at number four at 80-2 as the Lions chased a revised Duckworth-Lewis target of 290 in 48 overs.

But he made just seven before being trapped lbw by seamer Lahiru Madushanka.

Half centuries from the openers Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka, plus a hard-hitting unbeaten 56 off 35 balls from the international veteran Thisara Perera steered Sri Lanka to 278-7 in 48.1 overs before rain intervened.

Despite 64 in 70 balls from captain Keaton Jennings, the Lions slumped to 133 for seven before an innings of defiance and skill from Craig Overton averted the threat of a heavier defeat.

Overton, who was omitted from the Lions two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A but had already been the pick of the seamers here with two for 46, reached his first List A 50 from 36 balls with three fours and two cleanly-struck legside sixes, dominating an eighth-wicket partnership of 76 in 11 overs with Liam Livingstone.

But Livingstone, who had showed his all-round ability by taking one for 28 in 10 overs of spin, fell lbw to lively seamer Lahiru Madushanka in the gathering gloom, and the umpires ruled that the light was unplayable with the Lions down to their last pair and needing 60 off five overs – leaving Overton unbeaten on 60 from 45 balls.

It was a disappointing start to the series for the Lions, and an indication that the Sri Lankans will be a far tougher proposition on home soil than they were in the Tri-Series in England last summer.

Jennings won the toss and chose to bowl on a cloudy morning after the start had been delayed by half an hour because of a shower.

The Lions fielded four specialist seamers in addition to handing a debut to Warwickshire leg-spinner Josh Poysden, but were denied the early wickets they wanted by an opening stand of 123 inside 25 overs between Kusal Perera and Gunathilaka.

The next phase of the game belonged to the Lions as they took six wickets for 68 in 13 overs.

Livingstone deserved huge credit for that, bowling his 10 overs straight through with impressive control before claiming the wicket of Sandun Weerakkody in his last.

That brought Sri Lanka’s first right-hander to the crease – Sadeera Samarawickrama – and Livingstone, who had bowled exclusively off-spin to the left-handers in Sri Lanka’s top four, then rounded off his spell with two balls of leg-spin.

Toby Roland-Jones had made the first breakthrough, having Perera caught by Tom Helm at mid-on, and Helm then won a caught behind verdict against Gunathilaka as he gloved a pull down the legside.

Overton had bowled a tidy three-over spell early in the innings then returned to claim two wickets in his next three overs, with Kithuruwan Vithanage clipping to Clarke on the leg-side boundary, and Samarawickrama falling in similar fashion to Gunathilaka, bottom-edging a hook.

Helm claimed his second wicket when Jennings took a sharp catch at cover to dismiss Shehan Jayasuriya, and the Sri Lankans were struggling at 191 for six.

But Thisara Perera reclaimed the initiative in a seventh-wicket stand of 65 in eight overs with his captain, Milinda Siriwardena, hitting five sixes.

The Lions needed a good start and Ben Duckett looked in good touch until he was stumped off Gunathilaka’s off-spin.

Tom Alsop also showed some promise before falling lbw to Jayasuriya, another off-spinner.

But after Clarke fell to Madushanka, then came the key loss of Jennings, who had hit one straight six and reverse-swept three fours, but top-edged an orthodox sweep off Jayasuriya to short fine leg.

Ben Foakes, Roland-Jones and Fuller all departed in quick succession but at least Livingstone and especially Overton provided a sting in the tail.

The next match in the series is also in Dambulla on Saturday before the teams move on to Kurunegala and the last two matches in Colombo.