Livingstone hits half century for England Lions
Liam Livingstone (59) continued his good form for the England Lions with a half century on the opening day against Sri Lanka A at the Pallekele International Stadium on the outskirts of Kandy.
Essex batsman,Tom Westley had top-scored for the Lions with 97 after he made 95 in the warm-up game against a Board President’s XI.
He came in after the early loss of Haseeb Hameed and Nick Gubbins had left the Lions on 14 for two - and before lunch Keaton Jennings, the Lions captain who had won the toss, was bowled for 23 trying to reverse sweep the experienced international off-spinner Dilruwan Perera.
But Westley teamed up with Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone in a fourth-wicket stand of 126 in 27 overs.
The Essex man was especially strong off his legs, stroking 14 fours and a six in a graceful 137-ball innings until he fell in unusual fashion, hooking to a deep leg slip where Charith Asalanka took a sharp catch.
Livingstone followed two overs later, edging a ball that turned sharply from the left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara after making 59 from 83 balls – also his second half century of the tour.
But when the Surrey trio of Sam Curran, Tom Curran and Ben Foakes all fell cheaply to Pushpakumara either side of tea, the Lions were in trouble after losing five wickets for 21 in 13 overs.
They were rescued by the Middlesex trio of Rayner, Helm and especially Roland-Jones. After some watchful reconnaissance against Pushpakumara and Perera, Rayner and Roland-Jones had just begun to open up when Rayner was trapped lbw in the first over of leg-spin from Udara Jayasundera.
That was 248 for nine, but Helm and Roland-Jones added another 68 for the last wicket. Roland-Jones reached his 50 off 78 balls with the second of his three sixes and added another 32 off his next 20 balls before falling lbw to Lahiru Gamage, after also hitting eight fours.
Helm was left unbeaten on 13 after hitting the first six of his brief first-class career, leaving the Lions with 7 overs to attack the Sri Lankans in the evening sunshine.
They got off to a flier, with Livingstone diving to his left at first slip to dismiss the left-handed Jayasundera as he chased one angled across him by the elder Curran brother.
In the next over Roland-Jones pinned two more left-handers lbw in the space of four balls – first the experienced Test opener Dinuth Karunaratne, and then the former Under-19s captain Charith Asalanka.
Jennings brought on Helm to bowl the last over of the day and with his fifth delivery the tall right-armer nipped one away from the right-handed Roshan Silva, and Foakes took a tumbling catch to provide the Lions with a perfect finish.
Westley said about Livingstone, “We’re rooming together at the moment – so I don’t really want to be spending time out in the middle with him as well. He’s nice to bat with because he’s quite an aggressive player, he hits boundaries, and that allows me to keep plodding along.”
England Selector and Middlesex Director of Cricket Angus Fraser said, “I thought Westley and Livingstone manoeuvred the ball around really well, put the bad balls away, took the easy singles that were on offer, and looked in total control.
"It was good to see. Certainly for Liam, he’s not played a lot of first-class cricket yet, so to see him strike the ball as well as he did was good – and the same with Tom, he was unbelievably strong off his legs.”