Hyderabad: England's one-day tour of India is a chance for some of the youngsters to impress and two of them, Jonny Bairstow and Scott Borthwick, shone in the final warm-up match before the ODIs begin on Friday. Bairstow underlined his precocious talent with a thunderous 53-ball hundred as England piled up 367 for 4 then Borthwick took advantage of some slap-happy batting from the hosts to finish with 5 for 31 in a 253-run victory.
Bairstow's onslaught, which included eight sixes, built on solid work from the top order, including an opening stand of 159 between Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter, while Jonathan Trott also found form with 74 off 68 balls as he and Bairstow added 143. Bairstow's second fifty took just 20 deliveries. The only batsman to miss out was Kevin Pietersen, who fell to the left-arm spin of Medhi Hasan for 10, and he has failed in both warm-ups on his return to the one-day side.
Ian Bell sat out this match with an upset stomach and Ravi Bopara was rested following his 73 in the first game so, with Bairstow's form clear, there are now some tricky selection issues ahead of the opening one-day international. Given that Pietersen has been brought on this tour rather than continuing his rest he is unlikely to be left out so Bell could be the player who has to make way.
The top three, however, appear to be set in stone despite a few early doubts when Trott was named at No. 4 in the team sheet. England will need to be flexible with their thinking during the series, but the tried and tested order seems likely to start. Cook and Kieswetter reacquainted themselves in a productive partnership following the latter's return from the Champions League and were not overly tested by a friendly home attack.
However, after England's less-than-inspiring display on Saturday when they were bowled out for 219 it was an important statement of intent to produce a commanding batting performance. Both openers could have reached three figures, but neither will be too concerned to have missed out as it ensured others had the chance for time in the middle. Cook, having again outscored his opening partner, was caught on the boundary and Kieswetter mistimed a pull.
Pietersen was caught at backward point after a brief stay but England's innings never threatened to lose direction as Trott and Bairstow combined in their different styles. Trott manoeuvred the field while Bairstow gave a display of the power and timing that had been on show during his ODI debut in Cardiff last month. The last 10 overs of England's innings - outside of Powerplay restrictions under the new regulations - brought 105 runs.
Despite a promising start against England's pace bowlers - which included Stuart Meaker - the home side collapsed when spin came into the attack. A superb catch at slip from Cook to remove Akshath Reddy gave Borthwick his first wicket and the same combination struck again two balls later.
Wickets continued to fall in a hurry and Meaker then got in on the act with three for himself in the 29th over as his pace proved too much for the lower order. Neither Borthwick nor Meaker are expected to push for initial selection in the series, but their performances will have been noted.
It completed a fine day for England's new faces but tougher challenges await.