England Lions struck a timely blow for the main side as they beat a full-strength South African outfit by six wickets at Derby. Samit Patel pushed his claims for an international debut against Scotland, or later next week against South Africa, with an unbeaten 60 as he and Eoin Morgan added 113 to seal the win with 52 balls to spare.
The first of the Lions matches went the South Africans' way by four wickets at Grace Road and both sides made significant changes for this game. The visitors brought back Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher after they were rested following the Test series, while the Lions also had some fresh faces, including a new captain Ed Joyce, with only four players remaining from the first match.
Patel was one of those and enjoyed considerably more success this time after his first-ball duck on Thursday. Matt Prior, promoted to open after batting at No. 5 in the previous match, gave the chase an early push until he was caught behind, but Patel came in with the innings chase at a crucial time on 97 for 4. Andre Nel made two quick breakthroughs by bowling Owais Shah for 46, including three sixes, and Joyce trod on his stumps for 10, however Patel formed an impressive stand with Morgan, the Middlesex left-hander.
The required rate was never an issue for the Lions as Patel and Morgan moved along at close to a run-a-ball. Nel and Johan Botha were expensive as the batting pair picked off regular boundaries.
The new-look Lions attack caused problems for the South Africans despite a brisk opening stand of 67 between Smith and Herschelle Gibbs. Darren Pattinson, who controversially made his Test debut at Headingley last month, struck the first blow when he bowled Gibbs but was the one bowler to take severe punishment.
The key period came when the medium-pacers, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Luke Wright and Jonathan Trott, tied down the scoring. The 26 overs from that trio along with Patel went for just 74 runs. Kallis' poor run continued when he was trapped lbw by Mascarenhas, who surprisingly isn't part of the one-day squad, who then bowled Smith for 50 off 67 balls. AB de Villiers and JP Duminy struggled either side of a brief rain break before both fell to Trott and the South Africans were 117 for 5.
They rebuilt through Mark Boucher and Vernon Philander, but couldn't really push the accelerator. Boucher twice cleared the boundary as the pair added 92 and he finished with 63 off 67 balls. The Lions, though, put in a far improved batting display and the likes of Patel and Prior can join up with the England squad to face Scotland on Monday on good heart.