Keaton Jennings continued his dream week with a century on his England Lions debut to secure an eight-wicket victory over the United Arab Emirates in Dubai.
The Durham opener, having been appointed captain for his Lions debut and then selected to replace Haseeb Hameed in the senior England squad in India next week, reached an unbeaten 101 from 103 balls with 13 fours as the Lions passed a UAE total of 174 with 16 of their 50 overs to spare.
Surrey’s seamers had dominated after Jennings won his first toss as Lions captain and chose to bowl on a slow pitch at the Dubai Cricket Stadium, with four wickets for Stuart Meaker, two for each of the Curran brothers – and three catches behind the stumps for their county team-mate Ben Foakes, all off Meaker.
Jennings and Daniel Bell-Drummond started cautiously against some probing UAE bowling, but built momentum steadily in an opening stand of 107 inside 22 overs.
Bell-Drummond fell for 40 immediately after hitting the only six of the Lions innings but Hampshire youngster Tom Alsop, also on his Lions debut, then joined Jennings to make 24 in a second-wicket stand of 59.
“That couldn’t have gone much better,” Jennings agreed afterwards. “It was our first game together in the field after six or seven weeks, and a really enjoyable experience for me captaining the team.
“Toby Roland-Jones and Sammy Curran started off well, then Meaks bowled lovely for his four wickets, well supported by TC. And Ollie Rayner could have had much better figures with a bit of luck.
“It was a decent wicket, so to keep them down to 170-odd was a really good effort. And then to spend some time in the middle for me was great, even if they were one-day runs - which is obviously different to how things will be in India.
“It wasn’t easy to start with, the new ball did a little bit, and I think we’d only got 19 from the first nine overs. Then Deebs got a couple of boundaries in the 10th over, and that got the shackles off a little bit.
“We’ll enjoy a bit of time off tomorrow, and then come back looking for another good performance in the second game against the UAE on Saturday. Hopefully I can have another good knock in that game, and I know a lot of the other guys will be keen to get some time out there as well.”
It was Middlesex allrounder Toby Roland-Jones who made the first breakthrough for the Lions before the Surrey connection took over, led by Meaker, who generated impressive pace to end with four for 38 from his 10 overs.
After sharing the new ball with Roland-Jones, Sam Curran returned to claim his first wicket with a sharp return catch - and was grateful to an acrobatic effort on the fine leg boundary by Bell-Drummond for his second.
His elder brother Tom polished off the innings, ending with two for 26 in 7.5 overs. Sam claimed two for 25 from eight, Roland-Jones one for 36 from 10, and Rayner one for 44 from 10.
The Lions have two more 50-over games against the UAE, coached by former England batsman Owais Shah, at the Dubai Stadium before an historic first-class four-day match against Afghanistan which starts in Abu Dhabi next Wednesday.