- Australia A v England Lions, Hobart
England Lions fall to defeat
Shaun Marsh's unfortunate history of forfeiting rich veins of form due to injury gained a new chapter as his century to deliver victory for Australia A in their opening match against the England Lions was marred by what appeared a serious bout of knee trouble at Bellerive Oval.
Turning for the run that would have taken him to three figures, Marsh fell in a heap and was barely mobile enough to score the one run he needed for the century. On several occasions in the past Marsh has been afflicted by hamstring problems when playing well, and in 2011 his confident first steps as a Test batsman were derailed by a back complaint.
The injury will require a scan and places Marsh in serious doubt for the remainder of the series. It was a major sour point on what was otherwise a strong evening for Australia A, who ensured the England Lions remained winless so far on this tour. Aaron Finch added 171 with Marsh, while John Hastings, Ben Cutting and Kane Richardson had their moments with the ball.
Varun Chopra and Ben Foakes contributed innings of substance for the visitors, but until the brief tremor caused by Marsh's knee complaint their bowlers never looked likely to disrupt the hosts' chase.
Marsh and Finch had played haltingly in their recent international forays but had few problems getting established in the lower key environment of Australia A. Finch crashed the last ball of the first over to the cover fence, and in the second coshed a free-hit well over the midwicket fence when Chris Wright overstepped.
For a time it seemed Marsh and Finch's greatest dangers were to be posed by each other, Finch doubled over when one stinging drive from Marsh struck the non-striker. They were not to be separated until the tally reached 171, Finch pouched at long off trying for another six.
Alex Doolan, included when Callum Ferguson failed to recover from a groin strain, provided Marsh with sound support. A most comfortable win beckoned until Marsh clutched his right leg in obvious pain after turning for a second run when on 99. He gathered himself sufficiently to score the remaining run he needed for a century, but then hobbled off.
The episode seemed to unsettle the hosts, who soon lost Doolan and Ben Rohrer in quick succession, leaving Joe Burns and Tim Paine to settle and seal the chase with five balls to spare.
The Lions had enjoyed considerable good fortune in the first over of the match when Paine grassed a straightforward chance behind the stumps offered by Chopra from Richardson. Chopra took advantage of the dropped catch by assembling a sturdy innings, showing particular strength through cover and point.
The tally reached 53 before the first wicket, James Vince playing around a slower ball from Hastings. The captain James Taylor accompanied Chopra for a stand of 74 before picking out deep midwicket when he tried to lift the scoring rate.
Foakes met with greater success, scoring busily to ease the scoring load on Chopra, who reached his century before picking out long on. Hastings and Cutting nipped out three more wickets in the closing exchanges, and only one boundary was struck in the final five overs of the innings as Australia A kept their target well within reach.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here