England XI ease to contrived victory
England XI 231 for 3 (Trott 75*, Cook 68) beat England Lions 96 (Dernbach 3-21, Finn 3-28) by nine wickets
Throughout the tour of UAE, England's bowlers have performed impressively but against England Lions it could be argued they were too good as they shot out the second-string team for 96, leading to a contrived chase in Abu Dhabi. The two captains and coaches decided the senior side needed a more thorough workout before facing Pakistan, so it was agreed they would bat till they reached 230, which they did in 45.5 overs.
The negotiations served their purpose as England's beleaguered top order spent some valuable time in the middle, with Jonathan Trott finishing unbeaten on 75, Alastair Cook making 68 and Kevin Pietersen, back opening the batting, contributing a brisk 41. Ravi Bopara came in at No 4, a hint towards the order likely on Monday against Pakistan, but it meant Eoin Morgan only faced three deliveries following his poor Test series.
However, England's bowlers all appear in fine fettle. Jade Dernbach, who may struggle to make the starting XI for the one-day series when Stuart Broad returns from being rested here, produced a three-wicket burst with the new ball. Steven Finn also slotted back into action with three for himself and Tim Bresnan got through five overs on his return from injury.
Dernbach made an immediate impression when he removed Alex Hales' off stump and had a second scalp by the end of his opening over when he trapped the in-form Joe Root lbw. He soon added another as James Vince pulled to square leg and when Jonny Bairstow edged Finn the Lions were in a mess on 14 for 4.
James Taylor, the Lions captain, tried to steady the innings but lost Moeen Ali who edged Graeme Swann to slip. Taylor, having reach 30, then fell to Bresnan before Swann performed his usual trick of removing left-handers by claiming Scott Borthwick.
A last-wicket stand of 27 between Chris Woakes and Jack Brooks pushed the total towards three figures but Finn ended the brief resistance as the Lions were bowled out inside 29 overs.
Opening together for the first time, Cook and Pietersen eased into their task at a good rate and almost knocked off the original target themselves. Pietersen, who managed just 67 runs in the Test series, was greeted by Danny Briggs, the Hampshire left-arm spinner who is in the full one-day squad, taking the new ball. This time, though, it was pace which removed him when he edged Chris Woakes, leaving England's two accumulators, Cook and Trott, to guide the innings.
With no great pressure from the run-rate it was a comfortable situation for them, although the match had effectively become a glorified net session. However, Trott did manage something he has only achieved twice in his 40 ODIs when he struck a six. The pair added 72 in 13 overs before Cook was stumped off Briggs which allowed Bopara his first innings of the tour. His 36 ensured he reacquainted himself with run-scoring ahead of a one-day series that is crucial to his future international prospects. The same could be said of a number of his colleagues.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo