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TEAM NORTH SECURE FIRST VICTORY IN SERIES WARM UP MATCHES

 

Ben Duckett and James Vince warmed up for the North-South Series with fluent centuries on a high-scoring day at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

Duckett cracked 137 from 92 balls, with three sixes and 22 fours, as the North piled up 416 for six against a full-strength but rusty Worcestershire attack in their warm-up match – with captain Keaton Jennings dropping to number three to hit five sixes in his 92, his highest score since his century on Test debut in Mumbai last year.

That always seemed likely to prove too much for Worcestershire, who are in the UAE for their pre-season preparations and accepted a late opportunity to replace Afghanistan as the North’s warm-up opposition- and despite an opening stand of 128 in 20 overs between Daryl Mitchell (89) and Brett D’Oliveira (65), and defiant lower-order half centuries by Ed Barnard and new captain Joe Leach, they were all out for 345 in the 49th over.

The first five wickets fell to the North spinners – Graeme White, Liam Livingstone and Josh Poysden, who ended with three for 42 – before Mark Wood returned after a tidy three-over opening spell to take his first wicket of the year, in an encouraging comeback after his ankle operation last autumn.

The South seemed set for more of a struggle on the adjoining oval against the UAE, who made 343 for nine from their 50 overs with centuries from Rohan Mustafa and Shaiman Anwar.

But Dawid Malan, fresh from his triumph in the Pakistan Super League, laid a sound platform with 79 from 71 balls, sharing a second-wicket stand of exactly 100 with Vince – who went on to make an unbeaten 125 from 85 balls with 14 fours and four sixes before retiring to give the South’s middle-order some time at the crease.

They won by five wickets with 10 balls to spare, with handy contributions from Sam Northeast and Tom Alsop, after Daniel Bell-Drummond had made 37 in an opening stand of 81 with Malan.

Neither game had List A status, but both Vince and Duckett look ready to stake their claims for an England white-ball recall in the North-South Series – which will be watched by England head coach Trevor Bayliss and all three selectors.

Vince, who turned 26 on Tuesday, was batting for the first time since his farewell appearance for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash on January 18, while Duckett looked in good touch throughout England Lions’ one-day series in Sri Lanka but was frustrated to be restricted to a single half century.

The serious business begins on Friday in the grander surroundings of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, which will stage the first two matches of the series before it concludes in Abu Dhabi next Tuesday.

Tom Curran, the only member of either 13-man squad not to take part in the warm-up matches because of a stiff back, is confident of being available for selection to the South’s coach Paul Farbrace.

 

North 416-6, Worcestershire 345 all out – North won by 71 runs

UAE 343-9, South 344-5 – South won by 5 wkts

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