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Napier sings Mahmood's praises

England Lions
Kevin Shine & Sajid Mahmood

Sajid Mahmood won praise from Graham Napier for his displays in New Zealand

Graham Napier tipped Sajid Mahmood for further England honours as the Lions’ tour of New Zealand draws to a close.

Mahmood was the most economical of the Lions bowlers in the 35-run defeat by New Zealand A in the first one-day international yesterday, underlining the positive impression he has made with the ball over the last month.

He has not played for England for almost a year, but Napier claims he is pressing for a recall - while Mark Davies continues to chase a first senior call-up.

Although he sat out the match at Palmerston North, Davies is another to have caught the eye in New Zealand courtesy of nine wickets in two Tests against the same opponents.

“I’d look at Sajid Mahmood, who has been very impressive. Then you have Mark Davies, who bowls a very disciplined line,” said Napier ahead of the final ODI tomorrow.

“I think those two work well together and have a good partnership. Any player on this team is picked as a potential future England player, so that is what everyone is working towards.”

Napier shone himself yesterday, hitting 77 off 41 balls in the Lions’ pursuit of 374. He also claimed three wickets, albeit at a cost of 74.

“I was pleased with the way I started with the new ball, because that’s really the main thing that I want do while I’m with the Lions,” he added.

“I haven’t really spoken to anyone about (what I need to do to make the England team). But I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and I feel like I’m finding some form at the right time.”

The 29-year-old, who spent the winter in New Zealand playing for Wellington, is still waiting for senior England recognition, having just returned to the fringe set-up after a five-year hiatus.

But his talent has not gone unnoticed overseas. He was one of only six English players to land a contract in the next edition of the Indian Premier League, where he will play for Sachin Tendulkar’s Mumbai Indians.

“After the tour finishes, I’ll have a week back at home and then make preparations to head to India for the IPL,” Napier said.

“But for now I’m just concentrating on what we have to do here in New Zealand with the Lions.”

Napier also played down concerns over security in the sub-continent in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team in Pakistan.

“We’ve had troubles in London over the years, and people have had to put up with that,” he said. “That’s how I would approach it at the moment until I’m told different.”

Palmerston North will host the second one-day international tomorrow, before they round off their tour with a Twenty20 clash against the same opponents on Thursday.

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