Daniel Bell-Drummond scored his second England Lions century and shared a record-breaking 200-run partnership with Tom Alsop, to secure a first win of the one-day series against Sri Lanka A at the Colombo Cricket Club.
The Lions were in trouble at 12 for two when Alsop joined the Kent Cricket Academy graduate, after the loss of openers Ben Duckett and Keaton Jennings in the same over from Vikum Sanjaya.
But by the time Alsop was dismissed for 96, stumped aiming to reach three figures with a leg-side boundary, the Lions were within sight of a modest victory target, after a good all-round bowling performance in which Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones and debutant Graeme White (Northamptonshire) each took three wickets.
The 21-year-old Hampshire left-hander had faced 105 balls and hit 11 boundaries, and their partnership of exactly 200 was a new record for the third wicket in List A cricket for the Lions or the England A and B teams that preceded them, beating 194 between Ravi Bopara and James Taylor also against Sri Lanka A in Worcester in 2014.
Bell-Drummond reached his century in the next over, after facing 109 balls and stroking 11 boundaries. The Kent right-hander had top-scored with 51 in the Lions’ defeat in the third match of the series in Kurunegala on Monday, and his previous List A century was an unbeaten 171 against Sri Lanka A on home territory in Canterbury last July, when he shared a record-breaking second-wicket partnership with Duckett.
He was dismissed later in the over, bowled by the left-arm spinner Chaturanga de Silva, who was one of several new faces in a reshaped Sri Lanka A team which nevertheless included seven players with senior international experience.
Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke also fell cheaply as the Lions experienced a slight wobble, but Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone secured the win by five wickets with 16 balls to spare with a powerful straight six which clattered into the scoreboard.
The series concludes on Saturday, also at the Colombo Cricket Club ground on Maitland Crescent.
The Lions had made two changes to the team beaten in Kurunegala on Monday, with Roland-Jones returning in place of his Middlesex team-mate Tom Helm, and Ollie Rayner taking a breather to make way for White.
Roland-Jones and White each took three wickets in a battling Lions performance in the field after Jennings had lost his first toss of the series, with the new Sri Lanka A captain Ashan Priyanjan choosing to bat.
Danusha Gunathilaka, the left-handed opener who scored an unbeaten century in the second match of the series in Dambulla, looked in ominous touch again, dominating an opening stand of 68 inside nine overs.
It was Livingstone who made the crucial breakthrough with his off-spin which has developed so much with the Lions this winter. He bowled Gunathilaka for 44 from 29 balls, then followed up with the wicket of his opening partner Roy Chandraguptha, another left-hander who was bowled behind his legs as he tried to sweep.
Livingstone ended with two for 41 from his 10 overs, and Roland-Jones and White then combined effectively to share six wickets for 59 as the Sri Lankans slipped from 172 for two to 231 for eight.
Roland-Jones had Samara Samarawickrama smartly caught by Alsop driving to backward point, before White claimed three wickets in consecutive overs – Charith Asalanka well held by Bell-Drummond at long on, Angelo Perera pulling to Alsop at mid wicket, and the right-handed Priyanjan smartly stumped by Ben Foakes after being lured out of his crease.
Roland-Jones then had Dasun Shanaka caught by Duckett at mid-wicket, and yorked Chamika Karunaratne.
Sam Curran chipped in with the wicket of Rambith Rambukwella, and Craig Overton wrapped things up with a deserved wicket after another fine performance by the Somerset seamer, who has been the Lions’ most consistent bowler in the series.