Duckett smashes unbeaten 163 as England Lions start tri-series with seven-wicket win over Pakistan 'A'

England Lions beat Pakistan A by seven-wickets at Cheltenham behind 163 not out from Northamptonshire's Ben Duckett

Duckett smashes unbeaten 163 as England Lions start tri-series with seven-wicket win over Pakistan 'A'
Ben Duckett starred in the England Lions victory over Pakistan A at Cheltenham (image via: getty)

Ben Duckett's sensational innings has given the England Lions the perfect start to their tri-series.

Taking on Pakistan A at Cheltenham, Duckett finished not out on 163 from 104 deliveries to lead England to a seven-wicket victory with 82 balls remaining. 

Pakistan A had been bowled out earlier in the day for 244, with over half of their runs being scored by international opener Sharjeel Khan

England seamers Tom Curran and Mark Wood picked up four and three wickets respectively, but the standout performance of the day belonged to Duckett, who hit 24 fours and four maximums in his match-winning knock.

Early wickets put Lions in charge at Cheltenham

Having been inserted by England, Pakistan A got off to a flyer at the College Ground, with openers Fakhar Zaman and Sharjeel finding the boundary regularly throughout the first six overs. 

With the score at 38/0, Zaman's aggressive play cost him his wicket as he cut a wide delivery from Tom Curran straight into the hands of Joe Clarke at backward-point as he was dismissed for 18. 

Curran then doubled his wicket-tally four balls later, trapping Abdul Rehman Muzamil LBW for a duck to leave Pakistan 38/2. 

It was soon three wickets, when Pakistan's captain Babar Azam fell for a fifth ball duck to Mark Wood. Wood, returning from surgery which ruled him out at the start of the season, made an instant impact on his return to cricket by ripping through Azam with a searing yorker. 

On the back of the 90 he scored in the victory over Sri Lanka A on Monday, Sharjeel then took over, hitting big sixes off George Garton and Toby Roland-Jones, soon reaching his half-century off 48 deliveries. 

Sharjeel Khan on the pull at Cheltenham (image via: getty)

A promising looking fourth-wicket partnership was broken in comical fashion, with Saud Shakil run-out after meeting Sharjeel at the same end, brining an end to his innings of 15.

Sharjeel dominates middle-overs, before Wood and Curran wrap-up innings

With the run-out partly his fault, Sharjeel seemed intent on making his innings county really taking the attack to the Lions bowlers. Garton and Liam Dawson in particular were targeted by the big left-hander who flew through to his century off of 88 balls which included 11 fours and five maximums. 

Alongside Mohammad Nawaz who made 35, the fifth-wicket partnership reached 104 before Curran picked up his third-wicket, luring Nawaz into a big stroke which went skyward allowing Sam Billings to scoop a difficult catch. 

Sharjeel continued on his merry way, finding the fence with ease, before falling for 125 off the bowling of Dawson, with Wood taking a smart catch. 

Mark Wood impressed with 3-27 on his comeback (image via: getty)

With the innings' biggest contributor removed, England swarmed, with Wood taking two more wickets to end with excellent figures of 3-27. The Durham quick found the edge of both Bilawal Bhatti (2) and Hassan Ali's (6) bats who offered catches to Billings and Liam Livingstone to restrict the tourists to 234-8. 

Garton then grabbed his first wicket of the day after taking a tumbling return catch to remove Mohammad Asghar, before Curran wrapped-up the innings on 244 after trapping Mohammad Abbas LBW for figures of 4-39.

Malan falls early before Duckett picks up the pace 

Chasing 245 for victory, England got off to a poor start, losing skipper Dawid Malan for just two. The Middlesex opener left a delivery from Ali which hit the top of his off-stump, leaving him red-faced as he walked from the field. 

Malan's fellow opener Daniel Bell-Drummond started circumspectly, and found the perfect partner in Duckett who made a screaming start to his innings. 

Aided by some poor fielding from the Pakistan side, Duckett played a number of excellent shots in reaching his 50 from just 29 balls, which at the time included ten boundaries. 

At the other end Kent's Bell-Drummond was going nicely before he was caught behind off of Bhatti for 22, which at the time left the Lions 73-2 in the 12th over. 

Duckett dominates innings to take Lions to victory 

The wicket of Bell-Drummond didn't slow down the Northamptonshire batsman, who continued to play a vast array of shots all over the wicket. 

Tucking into every bowler, the diminutive left-hander stood and delivered, carving the ball to all parts of the College Ground. By the team he had reached three-figures, Duckett had smashed 17 fours and a six from his 65 balls, but really the fun had only just begun.

The 21-year-old continued to be authoritative at the crease, reverse-sweeping the spinners for six on two occasions, and playing an audacious ramp shot off of Abbas which flew towards the festival marquee's.

At the other end, Worcestershire's Joe Clarke had gone about his business well, playing some beautiful strokes on the leg-side while farming the strike to Duckett. 

In his first full-season at county level, Clarke has impressed in both red and white ball cricket, but won't be happy with his dismissal on his Lions debut. With Nawaz starting a new spell, Clarke cut his first delivery straight to Shakil at backward-point to fall for a well-made 35, bringing to an end the third-wicket partnership of 115. 

Duckett and Kent's Sam Billings steered the innings home, with an unbeaten partnership of 59. Billings ended 23 not out, but the star of the show was Duckett, who's sensational knock of 163* in front of England's Chief Selector James Whittaker will do his hopes of playing international cricket no harm at all. 

In a perfect ending, Duckett smashed a huge six over mid-wicket to end the game giving the Lions victory with more than 13 overs to spare.