Kaif ton too much for England

Mohammad Kaif sent a spectacular reminder to the national selectors with an unbeaten 119 to guide his Rajasthan Cricket Association President’s XI side to a five-run triumph and condemn England to defeat in their only warm-up match ahead of the seven-game ODI series in Jaipur.

Whilst the two sides had agreed to field 12 men apiece, Vikram Solanki’s decision to field first was undermined by a stomach upset that struck down Sajid Mahmood after the Lancashire paceman had delivered just three overs. It had been long enough for Mahmood to account for Jaydev Shah, but as Kaif united with Suresh Raina for the second wicket, the home side began to build their total.

Paul Collingwood, who as England’s twelfth man replaced Mahmood, was able to snare former Under 19 captain Raina one run shy of a half-century, and then added Venugopal Rao, but England’s thin bowling attack were unable to stifle the home side’s run rate. Garethy Batty’s six overs leaked 30 runs, and Solanki even turned to two overs of gentle medium pace from Ian Bell.

Ian Blackwell, who after one miserable Test outing at Nagpur seemed happier having returned to his preferred shorter form of the game, sent down ten tight overs of slow left arm, capturing the wicket of the RCA skipper Ajay Jadeja into the bargain. However, Parthiv Patel and later Ramesh Powar were able to stay with Kaif through the final overs as the hosts added 78 in the final ten overs to stretch their final tally to 260 for six.

The England reply was hit by a pair of early dismissals, as opening bowlers Vikram and Rudra Pratap Singh shared the wickets of Solanki and Owais Shah before England had 20 runs on the board. Matthew Prior, taking the gloves for this game in the absence of Geraint Jones, struck a breezy 55 as Kevin Pietersen joined him – but his partner’s run out set the pattern for a run chase where England failed to build upon several platforms.

Pietersen’s dismissal was the first of four run outs, the first two effected by Raina. Paul Collingwood, Ian Blackwell and James Anderson the others dismissed in this manner – and as starts went without conversion, the asking rate edged upwards. Ian Bell made 71, and Kabir Ali struck an unbeaten 25 from 17 balls, but England were unable to punish the part time bowling of Rao and Raina and ended six runs shy of their target as Anderson fell with a single ball remaining. The ODI series begins on Sunday in Delhi.

RCA President’s XI 260-6
Mohammad Kaif 119*, Suresh Raina 49
Paul Collingwood 2-28, Sajid Mahmood 1-33

England 255
Ian Bell 71, Matthew Prior 55
Suresh Raina 1-28, Venugopal Rao 1-31

RCA President’s XI won by five runs

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