Root ton helps England seal series
England Lions 330 for 6 (Root 110*, Buttler 64) beat Sri Lanka A 213 (Udawatte 52, Briggs 3-27) by 117 runs
As England were spinning to defeat in the third Test against Pakistan, the next generation had just secured an encouraging victory on the subcontinent. The Lions, featuring several players likely to be included in the senior England squad to play Pakistan in the ODIs, clinched their series against Sri Lanka A 3-2 after a resounding 117-run win in Colombo.
The victory was set up by Joe Root's first limited-overs hundred - as well as another thunderous cameo from Jos Buttler - before England's spinners, Samit Patel and Danny Briggs, cleaned up Sri Lanka for combined figures of 6 for 82. Buttler, Briggs and Patel are all in the frame for England's one-day squad, which will be announced tomorrow, and their performances may have provided the selectors with a crumb or two of comfort as they begin to sift through the wreckage of their Test whitewashing.
The series win comes after the Lions had lost 3-2 in Bangladesh last month and ECB performance director David Parsons was particularly pleased with the team's display, suggesting that it boded well for England.
"Today was the nearest thing possible to a complete batting performance in these conditions and befits a series win," Parsons said. "The batters demonstrated the learning that has been invested since this squad embarked on the performance camp in India in November and December, followed by a tough tour in Bangladesh and now in Sri Lanka in 2012.
"These are also the skills that are required to help take England forward in playing in these conditions and things that we are determined to keep working on."
Root finished the innings unbeaten, having come in at No. 3, as the Lions persisted with the experiment of Patel opening. The allrounder struck a rapid 50 in the previous match but made just 19 here, while Alex Hales departed for 46 to bring the captain James Taylor together with Root. They added a patient 86, Taylor contributing 41 - his first real score since the Lions left Bangladesh - but the innings went into overdrive shortly after his dismissal, Buttler scoring two-thirds of the runs in an association with Root worth 97. The Somerset batsman's 31-ball innings contained five sixes and five fours.
Jonny Bairstow, who has already broken into England's ODI side, thumped three more sixes as the Lions set a plus-300 target for the second time in the series. The hosts set off with an eye to matching the run rate - Chris Woakes saw his three overs disappear for 25 - but managed just one 50-run partnership as a series of top-order batsmen got in and got out. When Patel removed Mahela Udawatte their chances effectively disappeared and left-arm spinner Briggs was able to mop up the tail with almost 10 overs still to bowl.
"We were particularly pleased with the approach that we took to their spinners on a used pitch, and showed that with hard work we can play on the subcontinent," Taylor said. "Playing intelligently, but with appropriate aggression, it is possible to overcome a good bowling attack on these wickets."