Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball took two for 19 as England Lions levelled their T20 series against Pakistan A with an emphatic 41–run win under floodlights at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The 24-year-old bagged the key scalp of Iftikhar Ahmed early on, before returning to take the wicket that ended the contest in the final over when Bilal Asif was caught behind.
Dawid Malan had earlier top-scored for the second consecutive match after the Lions had been put in by Pakistan captain Junaid Khan, the Middlesex man following his 51 in Monday’s opener with a stylish 80 from 56 balls in a total of 164 for five.
The left-hander stroked eight of his first 16 balls for four and added two sixes off the spinners later in his innings, and Worcestershire’s Ross Whiteley also smashed two maximums in an unbeaten 29 from 20 balls – both huge hits which went into the top tier of the stand.
The Lions had changed their strategy by including Jamie Overton as a fourth specialist seamer in place of Stephen Parry, and the plan paid off as Pakistan A were reduced to 27 for three.
Overton had Fakhar Zaman athletically caught by Reece Topley diving in from the third man boundary in the second over, then the pace of Tymal Mills undid Shahzaib Hasan as he top-edged a hook to Overton at short fine leg.
Ball then opened up with a rare wicket maiden as Iftikhar mistimed to James Vince at mid-off.
And Liam Dawson seized his chance as the senior spinner, bowling Sohaib Maqsood who was Pakistan A’s top-scorer with 40 from 34 balls, and adding the wicket of Babar Azam for 35 to end with two for 25 from four tidy overs.
Overton returned to take two more wickets, one of them courtesy of a fine catch by Whiteley, to end with three for 26, and Topley earned one for 19 from his four overs as well as running out Junaid Khan when he deflected Bilal Asif’s drive onto the stumps.
Ball took the last wicket with a clever slower ball as Pakistan A were dismissed for 123 with three balls remaining of the 20th over.
The Mansfield born paceman’s series figures to date are 4-44 from 7.3 overs, with the next opportunity to impress coming tomorrow night, with the remaining two games of the five-match series to follow on Sunday and next Wednesday.
The 2015 season has seen dramatic last-gasp four day victories, thrilling limited-overs contests and an historic Investec Ashes Test, all in the unique surroundings of Trent Bridge.
Next season, we’d wager, will be no less enthralling and frankly we’d hate for you to miss out.