James Vince hit his first one-day century for England Lions but it was not enough to prevent Pakistan A recording their first victory of the 50-over series in Dubai today.
Vince, who has been in fine form since the Lions returned to the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, stroked 102 from 118 balls to lead the pursuit of a taxing target of 289.
But his dismissal, run out by a direct-hit as he called for a risky two to long-leg, triggered a slump from 223 for three to 271 all out, and a 17-run defeat.
Vince’s Hampshire team-mate Liam Dawson did his best to hold things together but he was last out for 41 leaving seven balls of the 50 overs unused, meaning the Pakistanis cut their deficit in the series to 2-1 with two matches to play – the first of them on Thursday.
The Lions were missing Dawid Malan, a century-maker when they went 2-0 up in the series last Friday, with illness and also Liam Plunkett with his thigh strain.
Vince won the toss and chose to bowl, but a reshaped Pakistan A batting line-up powered to 145 for one, Khurram Manzoor going on to a fine century.
It took the introduction of Tom Westley’s off-spin alongside Dawson, who had taken the first wicket courtesy of Vince’s sharp catch at slip, to build some pressure.
Toby Roland-Jones also bowled tidily and Tom Curran, who had been unlucky with the new ball, returned to take two wickets in the closing overs.
The Lions lost Malan’s replacement Daniel Bell-Drummond in the eighth over of their reply and Westley in the 21st for 34.
But Sam Billings then joined Vince to play the dominant role in a third-wicket stand of 90, with the Kent wicketkeeper striking three fours and reverse-sweeping a six in making 51 from 48 balls.
However after his dismissal followed by the loss of Vince, the Lions middle and lower order crumbled with the exception of Dawson, to leave more work to do to seal the series.