Sri Lanka 179 & 68-5 England A 259: Lewis torments the tourists

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The Independent Online

David Graveney said he wanted England A to give touring sides as hard a time as possible - yesterday they obliged their chairman of selectors. Their run-making was perhaps more a case of attrition than exhibition, but at least Robert Key's men scratched their way to an 80-run first-innings lead.

The bowlers then really turned the screw on the sorry Sri Lankans. Once again, Jon Lewis, the tourists' tormentor, was at the forefront of their demise.

Just as he had in the first innings, when he had struck with the first ball, the Gloucestershire seamer started the slide when he grabbed an early wicket. This time around it came with the third ball of the innings, when he had Michael Vandort, lbw shuffling back and across.

Further wickets followed as Rikki Clarke, Ravinder Bopara and Stuart Broad got in on the action, and when Lewis struck again late in the day, the tourists found themselves confronting defeat.

Given the weather forecast for today - heavy rain - it was probably just as well that the England A bowlers did get stuck in as brutally as they did.

Key had set the tone when resuming on his overnight 46. Although he reached his first half-century of the season, his innings was ended after three and a half hours of watchful occupation when he was caught behind - one of four victims for wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara.

A couple of Key's team-mates managed to demonstrate their patience and control. Ed Joyce, the Middlesex batsman, dug in but unfortunately he could not quite get to 50.

Alex Loudon and Ravinder Bopara then added a useful 65 for the fifth wicket before Loudon was dismissed, driving straight and low to Chamara Kapugedera at mid-on. That sparked a middle-order collapse which saw four wickets fall in successive overs for the addition of one run, but by then the A team were well ahead of the Sri Lankans.