Monday, August 11th, 2014

New Road Set For England Lions-New Zealand ‘a’ Showdown

New Road Set For England Lions-New Zealand ‘a’ Showdown

England Lions will face New Zealand 'A' at New Road tomorrow to decide the winners of the Royal London One-Day Series after the host nation thrashed Sri Lanka 'A' by seven wickets at the same venue.

Superb centuries by Ravi Bopara and skipper James Taylor – the third and fourth by Lions players in the tournament -enabled their side to gallop to their 284 victory target with 21 balls to spare.

Bopara was first to the milestone off 93 balls with 13 boundaries and a six and Taylor followed him to three figures shortly afterwards from 109 deliveries with eight fours and a six.

Alex Hales had scored 101 in the first meeting with Sri Lanka and Jonny Bairstow 123 against New Zealand.

Bopara and Taylor added 194 in 31 overs for the third wicket to effectively seal victory.

The Lions now have four points from three matches – one less than the Black Caps – after completing a double over the Sri Lankans.

Sri Lanka were put into bat on the same wicket which had produced more than 600 runs in the Royal London One-Day Cup clash between Worcestershire and Lancashire on Saturday.

They were indebted to a fine century from Dinesh Chandimal who had been part of the senior Sri Lankan side which had defeated England in the second Investec Test at Headingley in June to seal a series win.

He remained unbeaten on 119 from 127 balls with two sixes and nine fours out of Sri Lanka's 283-6 after they had been put into bat.

But the Sri Lankans had no answer to the batting power of Bopara and Taylor.

Steven Finn, who has retained his place in the Test squad to face India at the Kia Oval, took the new ball for the Lions and made two early breakthroughs.

The Middlesex paceman had opener Mahela Udawatta (4) caught down the legside by wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow in his second over.

Finn struck again with 16 on the board in the seventh over when the other opener, Danushka Gunatilleke, hammered a delivery straight to Stephen Parry at mid off.

Sri Lanka only managed to reach 31-2 in the 10 over mandatory powerplay with Finn's initial spell realising figures of 2-15 from five overs.

Sri Lankan captain Ashan Priyanjana lofted Smith for six over mid wicket and drilled Craig Overton over cover for another maximum.

He needed treatment after being accidentally struck on the back of a head by a throw from fine leg by Finn when on 35 after completing a single.

Priyanjana added only seven more before he tried to guide Ravi Bopara down to third man and only succeeded in edging through to Bairstow.

His stand with Chandimal was worth 77 in 17 overs. Chandimal reached his 50 off 81 balls with just three fours but then increased the scoring rate with 16 runs off an over from Willey including a six over mid-wicket.

Finn then conceded 18 in the next over – although it included two edges which flew for four – as the Sri Lankan innings gained momentum.

Chandimal added 91 in 14 overs with Bhanuka Rajapaksha (40) before the latter was caught on the mid-wicket boundary by James Vince off Overton.

Chandimal went to three figures off 118 balls with seven fours and a six. He received good support in the latter stages of the innings from Chathuranga De Silva (21) and Seekkuge Prasana (26) before both perished to Finn who finished with 4-67 from his 10 overs.

James Vince and Hales got the England innings off to a rapid start with a succession of boundaries and the 50 came up in the seventh over.

But the introduction of leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna temporarily checked England's progress as he dismissed both openers in successive overs.

Vince (32) attempted to cut a ball which was too full in length and was bowled and then Hales (24) pushed forward and edged to Priyanjana at slip.

Prasanna had destroyed the Lions with 6-23 on the same ground in another 50 over match three years ago.

Taylor was fortunate on two when he gloved a lifter from Dushmantha Chameera which fell in between three fielders on the off side.

But he and Bopara rebuilt the innings in increasingly fluent fashion. Bopara reached his 50 at a run a ball with six fours and a six over wide third man off Chameera.

The 100 stand came up in only 20 overs and then Taylor completed his half century off 66 balls with one six and three fours.

Sri Lanka were powerless to stop the Bopara-Taylor onslaught and the former went to three figures with a late cut for four off Chameera – the third boundary of the over.

Bopara was eventually stumped by Chandimal off Prasanna for 106. Taylor reached his century with a single off Ramith Rambukwella with just 15 required for victory and finished unbeaten on 103.