Andrew Gale stars in England Lions' title win
England Lions 279 for 5 (Gale 90, Stevens 68) beat India A 278 for 7 (Pujara 87*, Mukund 62, Parry 3-48) by five wickets
England Lions continued their unbeaten run to win the tri-series in Worcester, beating India A by five wickets in a big chase. There were five half-centurions in a high-scoring encounter, but the two that stood out were Andrew Gale, who top scored with 90, and Darren Stevens, who smashed 68 off 53 balls to help seal victory with eight balls to spare.
England's decision to field seemed to backfire when openers Abhinav Mukund and Shikhar Dhawan delivered an attacking start by adding 68 in under ten overs. However, from there on, England, led by left-arm spinner Stephen Parry's three-for on his Lions debut, kept India in check with timely breakthroughs, ensuring no partnership went past the 50-mark.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who finished as the tournament's highest run-getter, anchored the Indian innings with a knock of 87 off 89 balls, containing just six boundaries (four fours and two sixes). With some assistance from the lower order, he helped India post a competitive 278, but his bowlers failed in their defence.
England lost captain Alastair Cook, returning after missing three games to a back problem, in the second over but recovered well. Opener Steven Davies struck 55, and added 76 for the second wicket with Gale. While India's batsmen struggled to build partnerships, England showed no such difficulty.
Gale received excellent support from Ravi Bopara in a stand of 68, followed by 71 more with Stevens, whose innings was laced with nine fours and a six. Gale fell in the 42nd over, but Stevens kept England ahead of the required rate and when he was dismissed with the score on 260 the rest just had to hold their nerve. James Taylor did just that in his unbeaten 19 and completed the formalities in the penultimate over.
"This has been a really worthwhile series," Cook said. "The most pleasing things is that every player has contributed at some stage over the series and helped us win. It's a good opportunity particularly for the younger players to test themselves in this sort of tournament and to see how they measure up against touring sides."