Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Archer back in action as Lions warm up England for tour of Pakistan

Jofra Archer made his long-awaited return during a warm-up match between England’s Test team and England Lions but couldn’t help dominating the ball in Abu Dhabi.

Archer has not competed in 18 months due to longstanding elbow problems and a low back stress fracture, but has accelerated his rehabilitation by lining up for the second-row Lions.

England will rejoice in their first appearance with a red ball in hand, sending nine overs for 38 in two different spells and finding enough threat to smack Zak Crawley on the helmet early on.

But it was a dominant day for the batters as they set up the tour of Pakistan by stacking a massive 501 for seven in 79 overs.

Ollie Pope, acting captain in place of rested skipper Ben Stokes, made the most of his outing at Tolerance Oval when he cracked 146 in just 120 balls. Pope, who had settled in well at third over the summer, helped himself to 22 fours and three sixes as he headed into the first Test on Dec. 1.

Crawley also had a profitable stay in the crease, reaching 96 before taking a quick single to Archer, who slammed down the stumps on the non-forward end to earn the run out.

Capless all-rounder Will Jacks impressed with 84 from 48 deliveries and crossed the line four times, while T20 World Cup winner Liam Livingstone hit a quick 36 in his first red ball innings since 2020.

There was a potential allusion to the Test selection at the top of the order, where Ben Duckett (28) edged ahead of fellow contender Keaton Jennings (40), the latter finishing fifth in Stokes’ absence.

The Lions bowlers had to contend with some bruising, with the two for part-time spinner Dan Lawrence’s 57 being the pick of the bunch when he fired Jacks and Jennings.

Sam Cook, Tom Abell, Jack Carson and Sam Conners all took a wicket apiece, but youthful leg spinner Rehan Ahmed passed by more than nine on the day of his Test call-up and returned nothing for 73 from eight overs.

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