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Lions set for series decider

Pakistan A set up the second decider of the winter against England Lions with a six-wicket victory in Dubai to square the 50-over series at 2-2.

The Lions came from behind to win the Twenty20 series between the teams before Christmas, with Tom Curran holding his nerve in a tense Super Over finish.

Now it is the Pakistanis who will go into Saturday’s decider with confidence after coming back from 2-0 down.

The Lions produced their worst batting performance of the winter after being put in, although there was no sign of that as James Vince and Dawid Malan put on 60 inside 10 overs.

But Vince, who again looked in superb touch as he stroked six boundaries in making 32 from 26 balls, ran himself out for the second time in consecutive matches, this time calling for a third run to fine-leg.

Run outs cost England Lions dearly as they were bundled out for 181 by Pakistan A to set up a series decider Pic: Chris Whiteoak

Tom Westley was lbw to his second ball from Fahim Ashraf, and Sam Billings also went cheaply, but it was the loss of Malan to the left-arm spin of Zohaib Khan that really stunned the Lions.

The Middlesex opener, who missed Monday’s defeat with illness, had continued his consistent form with 56 from 76 balls. But after his departure the Lions middle and lower order floundered against four Pakistani spinners.

Liam Dawson was shaping well with 20 off 31 balls until he was run out after considering an ambitious second to deep midwicket.

Joe Clarke holed out to long-on, and Curran was the third run-out victim of the innings after a misunderstanding with Ross Whiteley, who struggled to get the spinners away.

The bowlers did their best to defend a meagre total of 181, with one wicket each for Craig Overton, Jake Ball, Dawson and Westley reducing the Pakistanis to 66 for four in the 24th over. 

But Asif Zakir, a 32-year-old from Karachi, steered Pakistan home in the 47th over and ended unbeaten on 68, supported by Zohaib in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 116.

Malan admitted to some frustration at being unable to close out the series before now but, after he played a key role in the Twenty20 decider before Christmas, the left-hander is confident the Lions can win on Saturday.

"It was disappointing not to seal the series in the third game when we had a bit of a collapse. Then today to get to 120 for three and then be all out for 180, it’s just not good enough," Malan said.

"We should have wrapped the series up, but fortunately we’ve got one more chance and we’re determined to take it.

"For them to come from 2-0 down shows there’s a lot of depth in Pakistan cricket.

"It’s obviously disappointing to be 2-2 at the moment. But we’re confident that we’re playing good cricket and hopefully we can beat them in the last game, and one of us can put our hands up with a match-winning performance."

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