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Sri Lanka claimed a two-wicket win in the third Under-19 Test at Worcester and took the series 2-1, having lost the first Test.
They began the day needing 52 more runs to win with five wickets in hand and lost the crucial wicket of opener Ian Daniels early on when he had his off stumped removed by Tim Murtagh.
But Malintha Gajanayake and skipper Kaushalya Weeraratne took their side to the brink of victory with an excellent partnership of 37 for the seventh wicket.
With only five runs needed for victory, Essex left-armer Justin Bishop, who took seven for 42 in the first innings, struck twice in two balls to put England right back in the hunt.
First he had Weeraratne caught behind and then Ranil Dhammika was well caught low at first slip by Nicky Peng.
New batsman Akalanka Ganegama, who took ten wickets in the match, scrambled a single before Gajanayake drove Bishop through the covers for the winning runs, which sparked a pitch invasion by the entire jubilant Sri Lankan side.
It was the first series England had lost at under-19 level since 1996 when they were beaten 1-0 by New Zealand.
England manager Tim Boon paid tribute to Sri Lanka's bowlers, saying: "Their seamers have bowled progressively better during the series and they bowled a great line and length here.
"It was a helter skelter game of cricket on an uneven pitch and I just hope that our players take this experience on board and learn from it. That is what Under-19 cricket is all about."
Sri Lanka take Under-19 Test series 2-1
Sri Lanka claimed a two-wicket win in the third Under-19 Test at Worcester and took the series 2-1, having lost the first Test
Daniels holds key to Sri Lanka success
Sri Lanka opener Ian Daniels holds the key to his side's hopes of victory in the third Under-19 Test against England at Worcester after 18 wickets fell on the second day
England dismiss Sri Lanka for 158 on second morning
Sri Lanka Under-19 increased their first-innings lead to 46 before being dismissed for 158 on the second morning of the crucial third Test against England at New Road