Ballance and Lions floored
A facial injury to half-centurion Gary Ballance hampered England Lions in Australia A’s 45-run win at the SCG.
Ballance, batting at number four, was leading the pursuit of 286 for victory when, despite wearing a helmet with a grille, he top-edged an Alister McDermott delivery into his jaw and was forced to retire hurt on 73.
That effectively left the tourists 200 for six and their innings ended with three of 50 overs unused as they went 4-0 down ahead of Friday’s finale at the same venue.
The hosts’ imposing 285 for eight was built on a smooth 109 from captain Aaron Finch and Adam Voges’ 81. Together they added 177 for the third wicket.
Having won the toss, Finch soon saw opening partner Joe Burns bowled by Chris Wright and Callum Ferguson fall cheaply to Toby Roland-Jones.
However, Finch and Voges rebuilt with boundaries aplenty until the latter was run out by Rikki Clarke, who shortly after snared the former.
James Vince quickly accounted for John Hastings before, in the innings’ last over, Roland-Jones bowled Tim Paine for 32 and Cameron Boyce for 17 to earn figures of 3-58.
In the reply Alex Hales was an early victim for Gurinder Sandhu, who also had Lions skipper James Taylor caught behind. Varun Chopra and Ballance put on 56 but McDermott removed the opener for 41
Batsmen then went at regular intervals as Cameron Boyce had Ben Foakes stumped for 20, Vince was lbw to Hastings, Ballance retired, and Josh Hazlewood bowled Clarke for 20.
Roland-Jones hit a spirited 17-ball 24 but, the over after Sandhu had Stuart Meaker caught behind, McDermott trapped him in front and bowled Simon Kerrigan to end proceedings.
McDermott returned 3-35 while Sandu’s three wickets cost one less run.