Chase a breeze for Gunathilaka after Livingstone's toil
Sri Lanka A 201 for 0 (Gunathilaka 121*, Kusal 70*) beat England Lions 217 (Livingstone 94, Duckett 59, Siriwardana 4-40) by 119 runs (DLS method)
For Danushka Gunathilaka, there was the grand satisfaction of a dashing hundred to bring delight to a run-of-the-mill Dambulla day. A day that was not particularly humid, nor particularly hot. The sort of day to which he has awoken without a second thought for most of his 25 years. What intensity there was, was felt only in his strokeplay as he inflicted a 65-ball hundred upon an England Lions side that was ill-equipped to resist.
As the Sri Lanka A coach took him to the ground, Kandalama lake was at its best, the mountains and clouds reflected so starkly in the water that it would have been an unimaginative man who had not looked into it and wondered what the future would hold. Gunathilaka, who in January left Sri Lanka's tour of South Africa early with a back complaint, did his future no harm at all.
Gunathilaka ensured a rout, Sri Lanka A threatening to hoover up the Lions' 217 with all their wickets and around 20 overs to spare. As it was, rain and bad light intervened around 4pm and the winning margin was decided by the weather tables which always takes a little gloss off it.
But you felt that, if he could have persuaded anybody to bowl to him in the eventual downpour, he could have done it all again. At 2-0 up with three to play, Sri Lanka will have ambitions to take the series in Kurunegala on Monday. England will have to bat brilliantly to stop it because the evidence of the first two matches is that their bowling resources are limited.
When Gunathilaka reached his hundred by flaying Craig Overton for successive off-side boundaries, his leaping punch of the air told of unspent energy levels. His first-wicket stand with Kusal Perera was worth 123 in the opening match on Thursday, but ended in unfortunate fashion when he pulled a wide one down the leg side. This time, Gunathilaka and Kusal as good as saw it home, utterly dominant throughout, the most uncertain moment coming when Gunathilaka was 73, Keaton Jennings forcing a top-edged pull but James Fuller spilling the chance.
For Liam Livingstone, whose upbringing has toughened him against the sharp sea air of Barrow on the Cumbrian coast, but left him somewhat exposed to a Sri Lankan climate, the heat was more exhausting, the most pressing question being whether his energy levels would be expended before the Lions' innings was spent. It was a close run-thing - Livingstone was last out for 94, his ambitions of a third hundred on this ground in little more than a week thwarted by a diving catch at deep midwicket by Kithuruwan Vithunage.
Livingstone first fell to his haunches soon after passing fifty and as he entered the 80s he needed treatment for cramp in both legs. At least England's regular loss of wickets allowed him ample opportunities to take on fluid, the ritual duly enacted under a multi-coloured umbrella brought on by the 12th man, Graeme White, to protect him from the sun, which made him look like a member of an old colonial club. At Old Trafford, where Livingstone plays most of his cricket, they only ever put up umbrellas for rain.
Livingstone is a violent strokemaker, not naturally given to energy conservation, although those who witnessed his two hundreds in the four-day match on this ground say that the second, where he pushed the ball around quietly, revealed a capacity to adapt. He favours a one-legged whip through the leg side which is vaguely reminiscent of Kevin Pietersen, a sort of flamingo on steroids. The umpires, kind-hearted souls, agreed that it was pretty hot and it is easy to look on from an air-conditioned media box and list many hotter and more humid days. He looks mightily impressive and the odds are that one day he will not cramp in conditions much more onerous and with more at stake.
Livingstone's plucky innings was one of the few redeeming features of a Lions effort in which Ben Duckett also looked more like his old self in making 59 from 45 balls - their counterattacking stand worth 81 in 10 overs - before he was well caught at deep mid-off during a canny spell from Thisara Perera, who took the pace off the ball to return 2 for 17 in six overs. Tom Alsop was his other victim, an aberration as he inexplicably chipped to long-on with only a single to his name.
Joe Clarke, without ever looking fluent was the only other Lions batsman to reach double figures, one of four victims for the left-arm spin of Milinda Siriwardena. The Sri Lanka A captain, a veritable A-team veteran at 31, did not allow himself a bowl in the opening match but he finished with 4 for 40 here, with Livingstone the most satisfying of his victims.
Livingstone was unable to take the field for the start of Sri Lanka A's reply, which immediately undermined the Lions' decision to omit Toby Roland-Jones and field an extra batsman. That realistically demanded a full spell of offspin from Livingstone, who had been the Lions' most economical bowler in the opening match, with only Jennings' medium-pace as a fall back.
He emerged five overs late with the heavy-legged gait of a man who had spent all day fell running in the Cumbrian mountains. He came on to bowl the 12th over, the first ball revealed his vulnerability, Gunathilaka unsympathetically despatched his next ball over long-on for six and it was an air of resignation that he took refuge again in the pavilion after painfully completing the over. Jennings subbed himself in and a single over went for 21, Fuller's drop followed by successive sixes.
Gunathilaka, who toured England last summer, ended unbeaten on 121 from 88 balls, clearing the boundary on six occasions. This Lions attack has yet to command respect and when bad light descended it would have been sensible to put them out of their misery with only 17 runs needed from more than 21 overs remaining. Instead the players had to sit around for the inevitable defeat and only found out the match was off when they saw the match referee scurrying to his transport in the pouring rain.
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps