South Africa 209-5 England Lions 210-4 <i>(Lions win by six wkts)</i>: Patel stars as Lions roar past tourists

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The Independent Online

Samit Patel proved his credentials as a potential international one-day batsman, making a fine half-century to guide England Lions to a thumping victory over South Africa.

Although there have been question marks over the 23-year-old Nottinghamshire man's fielding and fitness, it was his batting that did the talking as he built on a good start made by England hopefuls Owais Shah (46) and Matt Prior (33) to complete a comfortable six-wicket win, Middlesex batsman Eoin Morgan also chipping in with 47 not out.

Prior, who played his last ODI for England back in September last year, staked his claim to fill the problematic opening spot for England as he got his side off to a flying start, as both he and Shah produced some inventive hitting to get the Lions ahead of the run rate inside the power-plays and from then on they were always favourites for the win

Earlier in the day, South Africa captain, Graeme Smith, hit a fluent half-century, after having been dropped by Lions captain Ed Joyce on 17.

Mark Boucher also impressed with the bat for the tourists, the wicketkeeper who has played over 250 ODIs hit an impressive unbeaten 63 at almost a run a ball to ensure a competitive total.

The Lions bowlers rarely allowed the South African batsmen to produce any fluency, bowling consistently tight lines that made scoring very difficult. Hampshire all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas was particularly impressive, varying his pace to great effect as he picked up the prize wickets of Jacques Kallis and captain Smith.

Mascarenhas only played in one of England's ODIs in the recent series against New Zealand, but after this display with the ball and an average of more than 100 with the bat in this season's Pro 40, he has staked his claim for a more regular place.

This was South Africa's final warm-up before their five-match series against England and a Twenty20 international on Wednesday. The tourists go into the series just two points behind Australia in the official one-day international rankings, having won their last five ODI series. Ashwell Prince who is about to start a stint as Nottinghamshire's overseas player said: "It's the goal of the team to be number one in the world in both forms of the game."

The gritty left-hander who is not in the one-day squad admitted that a South African win is not, however, a formality, "they won't be getting ahead of themselves and with Kevin Pietersen as the new England captain I think it's going to be a close series". Prince, who fell victim to much-maligned England seamer Darren Pattinson in the Second Test, also backed his new Nottinghamshire team-mate to make a claim for an England recall, claiming: "I think he's an international-class bowler."

He added that the fast bowler, who took 1-62 yesterday, merited a second chance. "He's been doing well since he was left out and his performances would certainly merit the selectors taking another look at him."