Leach omitted from Lions line-up as Roland Jones thrives against Sri Lanka A

17 Feb 2017 13:39

Jack Leach's surprise omission from England Lions' team for the first of their two unofficial Tests against Sri Lanka A was the most eye-catching factor on day one in Kandy - where on the pitch, Toby Roland-Jones transformed the tourists' fortunes with bat and ball.

Left-arm spinner Leach is still struggling to rediscover his best form, having successfully corrected his action through the first half of the winter following tests which unexpectedly identified an illegal straightening beyond the permitted 15 degrees.

Without him, it fell to big-hitting Roland-Jones to engineer the Lions' fightback in the last session of a hard-fought first day of four.

Number nine Roland-Jones hit 82 from 98 balls, including three sixes and eight fours, as the Lions recovered from 210 for eight to 316 all out - thanks especially to his last-wicket stand of 68 with Tom Helm.

Seam-bowling all-rounder Roland-Jones then took two wickets in his first over - his Middlesex team-mate Helm and Surrey's Tom Curran had to settle for just one each in theirs - as the hosts faltered to 29 for four at the close.

In-form Tom Westley top-scored for the Lions with 97, sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 128 with Liam Livingstone (59).

The Lions had stuttered to 14 for two, after winning the toss, as Test opener Haseeb Hameed and Nick Gubbins both went cheaply.

Westley and Livingstone's departures began a middle-order collapse of five for 21 as left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara (four for 97) did most damage.

But Roland-Jones came to the rescue alongside two of his Lord's chums, first Ollie Rayner and then Helm.