Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Dolly In Winning Debut As Lions Seal Tri-Series With Third Win On Trot

Brett D'Oliveira finished on the winning side when making his England Lions debut today as a 56 run success over Pakistan A at Canterbury sealed a Tri Series triumph with a game to spare.

The Worcestershire all-rounder, who received his Lions cap from ECB lead batting coach Graham Thorpe before the game, replaced his county team-mate, the injured Joe Clarke in the middle order.

D'Oliveira came in at number seven and made 13 from 23 balls before he was lbw to Mohammad Nawaz as a superb 175 from Sam Billings helped the Lions total 324-8.

The 22-year-old then sent down six overs of leg spin at a cost of 38 runs as Pakistan were bowled out for 268 in 48.2 overs.

It was a third successive win in the competition for the Lions who ensured they finished top ahead of tomorrow's clash at Sri Lanka A at the same venue.

Billings treated his home county crowd to the third spectacular century for England Lions in as many matches.

The Kent wicketkeeper-batsman's career-best score came from only 139 balls with 21 fours and two sixes – an innings that was all the more impressive and important after the Lions had been reduced to 49 for four by Bilawal Bhatti’s excellent new-ball spell.

Despite a fine century in reply from Pakistan’s opener Jaahid Ali, three more wickets for Mark Wood ensured the Lions would maintain their 100% record.

Billings’s innings meant three of the top four List A scores for the Lions or the England A team that preceded them have been recorded in consecutive matches, following Ben Duckett’s unbeaten 163 in the previous match against Pakistan A in Cheltenham last Tuesday, and Dawid Malan’s new record of 185 not out against Sri Lanka A in Northampton on Thursday.

Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone provided excellent support in a restorative fifth-wicket partnership of 135 in only 20 overs, cracking 64 from 60 balls with five fours and two sixes into the building site on one side of the ground.

But the local hero continued to entertain an appreciative crowd until he was finally dismissed in the last over of the Lions innings, playing a range of increasingly audacious shots – with one of his sixes pulled over mid wicket from a left-handed stance.

Tom Curran opened the bowling for the Lions with his younger brother Sam, one of three debutants. Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood was handed his first appearance of the series – even though like Sam Curran, he still qualifies for the Under-19s.

The Curran brothers each took an early wicket to reduce Pakistan to 30 for two, but Jaahid was then joined by his captain Babar Azam to add 97 for the third wicket.

Liam Dawson had Babar caught by Tom Curran at long-on for 55, but Jaahid had Pakistan on course at 208 for three in the 36th over.

Then the elder Curran brother claimed his second wicket, and Mahmood his first for the Lions, before Wood ripped out Jaahid’s off stump – and had Bhatti caught behind off his next delivery.

Billings took a steepling catch running back towards the pavilion to give Wood his third wicket of the match, and his eighth of the series, before Sam Curran and Dawson polished things off.