CRICKET: Irani's defiant return bodes well for A side

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND A go into the second of three one-day internationals here in confident form, after a resounding win in the first match in Napier to follow their Test series win over their New Zealand counterparts.

The tour manager, Mike Gatting, believes the key to the side's success is teamwork and that was amply illustrated in the 50-over match in Napier. Having slumped to 84 for 5 after 29 overs, Marcus Trescothick (69) and Ronnie Irani (62) went on the offensive to help the tourists to 213 for 7.

That still did not look the most taxing of totals and when New Zealand A reached 131 for 1, it looked bleak for the tourists. But with Irani then taking 3 for 25, New Zealand A added only 73 more runs as they fell nine runs short of England's total.

It marked a turning point on what had, until then, been a miserable tour for Irani. Demoted to the A tour after his brief recall to the senior side for the last Test of the summer, he still found opportunities limited.

The Essex all-rounder was left out for the first A Test and promptly went down with chicken pox. He might have resigned himself to the fact that this was not going to be his tour, but he came back in Napier with the match-winning performance.

Now Irani is looking forward to the last two matches in the series: "We have to go out and drive it home to go two-nil up."