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    Sri Lanka's Middle Order Revives After England's Early Dominance in Youth Test
Sri Lanka's Middle Order Revives After England's Early Dominance in Youth Test
England Team. Source:

Sri Lanka's Middle Order Revives After England's Early Dominance in Youth Test

Sri Lanka's middle order mounted a comeback after England enjoyed a productive morning on the first day of the opening Youth Men's Test in Wormsley. The visitors concluded a rain-shortened day at 177 for 5, following the Young Lions' successful use of bowler-friendly conditions in the initial hour, securing four wickets.

The new-ball duo of Alex French and Naavya Sharma claimed the first three wickets with catches in the slip cordon. Rocky Flintoff contributed with a run-out of Sharujan Shanmuganathan after a disastrous mix-up left both batsmen at the non-striker's end.

Alex Green had Mahith Perera caught behind just before a second rain interruption, but a resilient sixth-wicket partnership of 74 between captain Dinura Kalupahana and Diniru Abeywickramashingha brought Sri Lanka back into contention.

With overcast skies and a green-tinged pitch, Hamza Shaikh, leading England Men U19s for the first time, chose to field after winning the toss, a decision that was quickly justified. Surrey's tall right-armer, French, dismissed both openers within the first half-hour, with Freddie McCann catching edges from Sadew Samarasinghe and Pulindu Perera at second slip.

In a rare moment of aggression from the tourists, Gayana Weerasinghe flicked Sharma over the leg-side for six but was dismissed in Sharma's next over when Noah Thain held a sharp catch at first slip.

Sharma, called into the squad over the weekend, celebrated with his teammates again shortly after as Sri Lanka's morning worsened. Shanmuganathan pushed into the off-side and set off for a single, but Perera hesitated, leading to Flintoff easily lobbing the ball to wicketkeeper Jack Carney, who removed the bails while the batsmen stared accusingly at each other.

At 49 to 4, rain halted play for over two hours. In a shortened middle session, Leicestershire's Green took a wicket with his first ball of a new spell, catching Perera behind. Following a second break, the Sri Lanka batters adopted a counter-attacking approach. Abeywickramashingha led with six boundaries in his unbeaten 35 from 41 balls, putting pressure back on England's bowlers.

This strategy allowed Kalupahana to showcase his talent, reaching his half-century from 98 balls with a boundary off Green. The captain then increased his scoring rate, striking Farhan Ahmed over the ropes and remaining unbeaten on 70 when a third rain delay eventually ended play.

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