England A 228 for 7 (Solanki 94, Bell 61, Khuram Khan 3-56) beat United Arab Emirates 186 for 9 (Ashgar Ali 42, Khuram Khan 41, Shah 4-40) by 42 runs
England A recorded a 42-run victory in the first of four matches against the United Arab Emirates. Batting first in a floodlit match at Sharjah, they made 228 for 7, with most of the runs coming in a second-wicket stand of 138 between Vikram Solanki and Ian Bell, the captain.
Solanki and Bell came together after Matt Prior was caught and bowled for a duck by Ahmed Nadeem. Solanki smashed five sixes - but only two fours - as he romped to 94. Bell was slightly more circumspect, managing only two sixes and three fours himself, as he scored 61. Both eventually fell to Khuram Khan, the UAE's 33-year-old captain and left-arm spinner, who finished with 3 for 56.
Wickets fell at regular intervals after that, although Alex Gidman (21 not out) and Alastair Cook (20 from 14 balls) played brightly towards the end.
The UAE's innings began badly. They slumped to 23 for 3 after Rashid Khan was run out and David Harrison and Jon Lewis took a wicket apiece. Then Khuram and Asghar Ali shared a handy partnership of 79, before Asghar fell for 42. The wicket came from an unexpected quarter: Owais Shah, who didn't bowl at all in 21 one-day games for Middlesex at home last season, and who has taken only eight one-day wickets in a ten-year county career, had Asghar caught by Solanki. Shah's offspin then accounted for the dangerous Khuram for 41, after he had hit two sixes and a four. Shah also removed Ahmed Nadeem and Fahad Usman, to end up with 4 for 40.
Shah's surprise burst left the UAE struggling at 138 for 7, and although Ali Asad (24) and Sameer Zia (22 not out) played sensibly, there was never much danger of an upset.
The second of the four floodlit matches will be played tomorrow (Sunday Feb 27) at Sharjah.