Tom Haines hundred puts England Lions in control against Sri Lanka A
Sussex batter shows benefit of work with Ian Bell on first Lions tour
Sri Lanka A 136 and 228 for 1 (Fernando 114, Madushka 91*) trail England Lions 467 (Haines 118, Fisher 53, de Silva 3-59) by 1o3 runs
Tom Haines' century on debut has put England Lions in a commanding position on day two of the first unofficial Test in Galle.
The Sussex opener scored 118 from No. 3 as the Lions finished their innings on 467, establishing a first-innings lead of 331. The hosts were able to whittle that down to 103 by close, with a century from Oshada Fernando and unbeaten 91 from Nishan Madushka in a strong response of 228 for 1 in their second innings.
Haines, 24, has been touted for higher honours off the back of two stellar seasons that saw him average 47.04 and 49.52 in the 2021 and 2022, with 1176 and 941 runs respectively. Among them were six centuries spread evenly across both, with this latest three-figure score taking him to nine in his first-class career.
"It is very special and a very proud moment for me," Haines said at stumps. "The thing that I was most pleased with was that it has put us into a really good position in the game. We would have liked a few more wickets to end the day, but we'll have to come back tomorrow and try and get some more."
While not his first experience of Sri Lankan conditions, having toured here with Sussex Academy "nine or 10 years ago", he scored positively with 12 fours and a six across a knock that boasted a strike rate off 85.50. It was in line with the innings as a whole which went at a rate of 5.31 across the 87.5 overs. Evidently the pre-tour briefing to try and emulate the positive approach of the Test side instilled by head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes has been well heeded.
Haines also credited batting coach Ian Bell, who presented him with his Lions cap on day one, for reinforcing his work against spin. Bell, along with Graeme Swann, have been drafted in by the ECB to pass on their wisdom to the Lions, a relationship the began on the Lions training camp in Abu Dhabi last November.
"I have really enjoyed working with him it has been top drawer," Haines said. "I enjoyed working with him at the Lions camp in Dubai before Christmas.
"He has definitely helped me out with playing spin and just my mental attitude towards it, and how you apply that so that you do it in the game.
"Swanny and Belly spoke about the importance of first-innings runs before the game - about how certain shots you can play in the first innings but second innings you might need a completely different repertoire of shots. We'll see how it plays tomorrow."
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo