Jamie Overton had his most eventful day in an England shirt as he smashed a half century then limped off with a toe injury as the Lions lost their second 50-over warm-up match against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai today.
Overton ended unbeaten on 57 from 35 balls, hitting 22 off the last over including five consecutive boundaries. Even then, a total of 222 for nine proved insufficient as the UAE sneaked a famous victory for them with two balls and two wickets to spare.
But the good news for Overton and the Lions was that the foot twinge that restricted him to four overs in the UAE reply is not thought be serious, and the Somerset paceman remains hopeful of being fit for the start of the five-match series against Pakistan A on Wednesday.
“Nothing to worry about, hopefully,” said the 21-year-old. “I felt a bit of pain on my back foot, around the little toe. I could have gone back on if need be. But it was a warm-up game and I felt like I was bowling all right so I didn’t really need to go back out there.”
Overton had bowled well with the new ball, and could easily have had a wicket to improve figures of 4-1-10-0. But the UAE openers Muhammad Kaleem and Mohammad Shahzad survived to give their side a good start, and Swapnil Patel maintained the momentum with a 51-ball 50.
It was only in the last 15 overs that the Lions bowlers started to apply some pressure, with Stephen Parry, Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett drying up the runs. Ball took two wickets in consecutive overs, and Plunkett three in three in an impressive first appearance of the tour.
When Tom Westley, who had already had Shahzad stumped by Sam Billings, returned to trap Usman Mushtaq lbw, the UAE were 185 for eight, and the match seemed to have tilted towards the Lions.
But Rohan Mustafa and the UAE captain Ahmed Raza kept their cool in an unbroken stand of 38 to secure a win which will be a major boost ahead of an Intercontinental Cup fixture against the Netherlands next week.
The home team had also bowled well, with tall seamer Amjad Javed exploiting the morning dampness to send back Dawid Malan, Westley and Billings in his first four overs.
James Vince stroked 58 from 56 balls, his second consecutive half century after 88 in the previous warm-up match on Thursday. But Joe Clarke was yorked, Ross Whiteley run out, and when Ben Foakes went for a battling 29 the Lions were in all sorts of trouble at 141 for eight.
Then Overton joined Parry to add 51 for the ninth wicket, with the Lancashire spinner clipping two boundaries and late-cutting a third in an intelligent innings of 29.
Overton launched an early six high over wide mid on and into a junior football match on a neighbouring pitch, and added another maximum before his late blitz of fours.
“I was a bit wary of the football going on but luckily the ball was in the other half,” he reflected. “I struck that one all right – in fact I struck most of them all right today. Hopefully I can keep going like that.
“I work hard on it – I know I can bat. For me it’s just trying to get my workload up. I feel more confident when I keep batting and batting rather than just doing bits here and there. Me and Paz had to bat for as long as we could which meant I could have a go in the last over. It was crucial we just stayed in.”
Overton has made three first-class 50s, the last of them a remarkable assault on Yorkshire at Taunton last May when he reached his half century from only 18 balls in a last-wicket stand of 76 in less than six overs with twin brother Craig.
“My last 50 was the one against Yorkshire in the Championship, but I’ve never got one in a 50-over game before, or in an England shirt,” he added. “Obviously I wish it had been in a winning cause but it’s nice to have got it. We’ve got a lot of allrounders so it’s hard to get in front of them, but hopefully this has put my claim in to push up a little bit.”
The Lions are next in action on Wednesday when they take on Pakistan A.