England Lions 299 and 182 for 3 (Root 66) lead Sri Lanka A 389 (Silva 89, Rajapaksa 76) by 92 runs
A battling tail-end partnership extended Sri Lanka A's lead to 90 in the morning, but a 98-run opening stand and a composed half-century from England Lions opener Joe Root put the hosts 92 runs ahead at stumps on the third day in Scarborough. The Lions lost three wickets before the close - including a skittish Ravi Bopara for a 21-ball 25 - but reached a position of reasonable safety at 182 for 3.
Lions seamers Stuart Meaker, James Harris and Jade Dernbach eventually finished with three wickets apiece as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 389, but not before a stubborn 61-run partnership between Nos. 9 and 10, Sachithra Senanayake and Kanishka Alvitigala, had extended the Sri Lankans' first-innings advantage after they had started the day on 329 for 8.
Root and fellow opener Alex Hales lead a spirited response from the Lions, both men pinging the boundary repeatedly and Hales eventually falling for a 69-ball 42 that included five fours and a six. He fell to offspinner Senanayake, who helped himself to five wickets in the Lions' first innings and ended day three with two more, Bopara his second scalp.
In the meantime Root had brought up a 95-ball fifty, but immediately after Bopara, who had rushed out of the blocks and cracked five fours in his short innings, was dismissed, Root was undone by offspinner Sachithra Serasinghe and Sri Lanka A had found an entry into the middle order with the score at 143 for 3.
Lions captain James Taylor and wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter held firm until the close, however, adding an unbroken 39 before stumps.
"I'm pleased with the way I played today, overall I think its been a good day for us," said Root. "I was disappointed with how I got out but we need to come back tomorrow and play confidently from the start and with our bowling attack we're still looking to get a result."