England Lions 236 for 3 (Gubbins 128*, Hain 54) beat India A 232 (Pant 64, Dawson 4-30, Helm 3-33) by seven wickets
Trevor Bayliss, England's coach, is taking time out from the T20 series against India and Australia to run the rule over England Lions and if the results stay like this in their triangular series against the A teams of India and West Indies he could get to like it. Nick Gubbins was the first member of England's shadow squad to make a favourable impression with an unbeaten hundred as India A, who were expected to be daunting opponents, were despatched by seven wickets with 8.1 overs to spare in Derby.
This was Derby at its most inviting. Once renowned as the coldest, most windswept ground in England, it has improved beyond measure and a gorgeous summer's day and a slow, slightly abrasive pitch seemed designed for India A. But an exciting batting line-up malfunctioned and India A lacked the spin-bowling threat to defend their modest total of 232. Gubbins was at his smoothest in making 128 not out off 132 balls
"I think the wicket got better throughout the day as the sun baked it," Gubbis conceded. "It looked a bit sticky early on, maybe because we were bowling well. A good toss to lose."
Gubbins has been on the fringes of the England Test side for a while, only for Keaton Jennings to win the right to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order after the selectors dispensed with Mark Stoneman: a partnership that looks certain to begin the Test series against India later this summer. Bayliss rarely bursts into raptures, but he will have been quietly impressed with what he saw.
Gubbins' season has been disrupted by injury. He made hundreds in the first two North v South challenge pre-season challenge matches in Barbados, but tore a hamstring while fielding in the final match and has managed only two Championship matches for Middlesex. He did return in the Royal London Cup, leaving him well attuned to the 50-over game.
Only in the 90s, during an eventful over from the offspinner Krishnappa Gowtham, did he look vulnerable. He should have been stumped by Rishabh Pant on 91 when he came down the pitch, struck a boundary through the hands of mid-off as Gowtham flung his arms aloft in frustration, and finished the over by bringing up his fifth List A century with a dance-down-the-wicket six over long off.
Sam Hain also made a composed half-century in a second-wicket stand of 134 in 24 overs as no India A bowler managed to exert much pressure and the result was signalled long before the end. A few disconsolate India ex pats chanted their loyalty to Ravi Jadeja as defeat loomed. India can be expected to put up much stiffer opposition in a triangular where sides play each other twice before a final at Kia Oval a week on Monday.
Two India U-19 starlets departed in the first hour: Prithvi Shaw fell to a catch at the wicket off Tom Helm, who had earlier struck him on the forearm, causing a delay for treatment, and Shubman Gill's impressive 37 from 40 balls came to grief perhaps because of slight over-confidence when he was bowled, playing inside a ball from left-arm spinner Liam Dawson which had no discernible turn.
In between there was also an excellent catch by Ben Foakes, way to his right, which provided respite for Reece Topley after an uncertain start.
Dawson, now 28, and with ten internationals behind him across three formats, was one of three players in this Lions side qualifying for the description of wily old pro, a designation that could also apply to the captain, Steven Mullaney, who is having his first taste of senior representative cricket at 31, and Chris Jordan, who managed only one match for Sunrisers in this season's IPL.
Dawson eased the chase by taking 4 for 30, a miserly spell despite only a semblance of turn, and one which turned out to be the best analysis by a Lions spinner in England. Dawson bowled Gill for 37 as he played inside a straight one and had Shreyas Iyer, India's captain, stumped for 42 - a wild swing across the line caused by his failure to reach the pitch of the ball. There was a first-ball duck for Vijay Shankar as he pushed forward, Gowtham also falling in similar fashion.
Pant's 64 from 55 balls was the third India A knock to threaten destruction. He struck Dawson over the low-slung, brick-built bar, but he fell to the offspin of Liam Livingstone when he swept to deep backward square. Seven down for 180, with 18 overs left, India A had been architects of their own downfall.
With the same surface destined to be used in England's match against West Indies on Saturday, England could give an outing to Lancashire's legspinner Matt Parkinson with India also likely to re-examine their spin options.