Joe Clarke made a welcome return to form and top-scored for the North in the opening 50 over match with the South in Dubai today.
The Worcestershire batsman made 57 off 59 balls batting at number five.
But the efforts of the 20-year-old were to no avail as the North were bowled out for 202 and then Dawid Malan and Daniel Bell-Drummond powered the South to a 10 wicket victory.
Clarke, who has experienced a challenging winter with England Lions, came to the wicket at 62-3 and struck two sixes and five fours.
He put on 63 in 10 overs with Tim Bresnan for the sixth wicket.
Clarke reached his half century off 49 balls and his two sixes came at the expense of spinner Mason Crane.
But he was bowled for 57 aiming an ambitious ramp shot at the first ball of Tom Curran’s second spell, seventh out at 193. It triggered a lower-order collapse as the North’s last four wickets tumbled for nine runs inside three overs.
The North were dismissed for 202 after winning the toss and choosing to bat, with three wickets for Curran and two each for Toby Roland-Jones, Mason Crane and the especially impressive Liam Dawson in a fine all-round bowling performance by the South team.
Malan and Bell-Drummond made short work of the modest target, with more than 16 overs remaining when the Middlesex left-hander sealed victory with his 16th four.
Malan, who was included in an England T20 squad last summer after impressing with the Lions against Pakistan A in the winter of 2015-16, also hit a six as he ended unbeaten on 109 from 103 balls, while Bell-Drummond hit two sixes and 11 fours to reach 92 from 98.
The match was watched by England coach Trevor Bayliss as well as selectors James Whitaker and Mick Newell, with assistant coach Paul Farbrace enjoying an initial triumph over fast-bowling coach Ottis Gibson – whose North team now need to win the second match, also at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday, to stay alive in the three-match series.
Malan and Bell-Drummond survived a searching new ball examination from Mark Wood and Tim Bresnan, Wood bowling seven overs in his first competitive action since an ankle operation last autumn, and Bresnan having Malan dropped in his third over.
But after that they were rarely troubled, although Northamptonshire left-arm spinner Graeme White claimed the small consolation of bowling the only maiden of the match in the penultimate over.
The North suffered an early blow after their captain Keaton Jennings chose to bat first, when Curran claimed the scalp of Ben Duckett, edging a drive to Ben Foakes.
Curran took one for 16 in his opening burst and Roland-Jones kept up the pressure in an excellent seven-over spell in which he earned the key wickets of Jennings and Liam Livingstone.
Jennings steered to Malan at slip, and Livingstone, after launching Lewis Gregory into the stands for the first six of the series, was brilliantly caught by Curran running back from mid-off as he aimed for another big hit.
Sam Hain survived a couple of dropped chances to make 33 from 55 balls until he was undone by the introduction of Mason Crane, lbw sweeping against the spin.
Then Jack Leaning ran himself out trying to take a second to Crane at deep cover, leaving the North in deep trouble at 91 for five.
Bresnan joined Joe Clarke in a counter-attacking stand, striking three sixes in making 40 off 41 balls.
But the Yorkshireman was bowled behind his legs trying to reverse sweep Dawson, the Hampshire all-rounder who bowled his 10 overs straight through to earn the excellent figures of two for 29.
After Clarke's dismissal, Durham all-rounder Paul Coughlin was Dawson’s second victim, lbw for 19 which included two cleanly-struck leg-side sixes.
Then Curran deceived White with a change of pace to take a return catch, and finally Crane returned to have Harry Gurney snapped up at slip by Malan.