England U-19s v Sri Lanka U-19s, 2nd Test, Scarborough, 3rd day July 29, 2010

Ball and Best edge England ahead

Cricinfo staff

Sri Lanka U-19s 317 and 171 for 7 (Fernando 44*, Jayampathi 17* Ball 3-36) lead England U-19s 321 (Manuel 57, Peiris-79) by 167 runs

After two tense days England edged ahead on the third day of their hard-fought tussle against Sri Lanka after three wickets apiece to Jacob Ball and Paul Best restricted Sri Lanka to 171 for 7 at Scarborough.

While the off-field chaos continued to rumble, with former captain Azeem Rafiq being suspended by Yorkshire for his now infamous Twitter tirade, his team-mates battled hard to give themselves a chance of pulling off a series-levelling victory on the final day.

Starting the day 94 runs behind with four wickets in hand England eked out a narrow first-innings lead thanks to 38-run last wicket stand between David Payne and Ball. While Payne gamely held up an end, Ball swung merrily picking up three fours and a six in his unbeaten 26. The partnership finally ended when Sanitha de Mel had Payne caught for 18 off 73 deliveries but the damage had been done.

Riding on the the momentum he generated with the bat, Ball then made quick inroads to the Sri Lankan second innings. After a quiet start Nipun Madusanka was trapped in front for 5 and Ball was into the action soon after again, dismissing Rumesh Buddika.

Sri Lanka were then plunged into real trouble when Ball picked up his third wicket and Payne ended Bhanuka Rajapaksa desperately stay, having him caught for a 23-ball duck. At that stage Sri Lanka were tottering at 20 for 4 and England sensed an opportunity to surge through.

Kithuruwan Vithanage had none of it, however, and fought back with a stroke-filled half-century. He cracked seven fours and a six during his 60-ball 53 and shared a productive 41-strand with Akshu Fernando. It was Best, captain of the side after Rafiq's demotion, who kept England in charge, castling Vithanage and picking up two more wickets to leave give his side a chance of victory on the fourth day.