Sam Billings ensured England’s one-day tour of India began with a win yesterday, anchoring a successful pursuit of 305 against MS Dhoni’s India A in Mumbai.
Billings, fresh from a Big Bash stint with Sydney Sixers, may have owed his place in the side to the delayed arrival of new father Joe Root but made a compelling case with a measured 93 as England squeezed home by three wickets at the Brabourne Stadium.
Billings faced 85 balls and hit eight fours but fell before the job was done, Chris Woakes claiming the winning boundary with seven deliveries to spare to lay down a strong first marker before the series proper.
For this was no ordinary warmup outing, Dhoni leading an India side for probably the final time following his resignation as ODI skipper and joined for the occasion by a host of seasoned internationals and more than 20,000 adoring fans.
India A showed their calibre with the bat as Ambati Rayudu retired on 100, Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh made half-centuries and Dhoni, inevitably, capped things with 68 unbeaten runs at the close.
But England showed calm heads to make their way past a challenging target, with Jason Roy (62), Jos Buttler (46) and Liam Dawson (41) backing up Billings’s centrepiece.
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