Viljoen leads Associate fightback
Namibian all-rounder Christi Viljoen starred in a strong Associate XI fight-back after a Stuart Broad inspired England had threatened to embarrass their opponents on the opening day of their clash in Dubai.
An opening salvo from Broad (4-46) saw him collect wickets in his first three overs to leave the Associates reeling on 11 for 3. Broad accounted for the Irish pairing of William Porterfield (1), and Paul Stirling (7), and when Scotland and Northants star Kyle Coetzer gave Steve Davies his second catch, the situation looked bleak for the globetrotting side. Davies had replaced Matt Prior who had injured his finger in training on Friday.
Craig Williams with a brisk 34 (6 fours, 1 six) and Saqib Ali (14) counter-attacked briefly, but their dismissals along with that of Mohammed Nabi (0) meant England would have enjoyed their lunch with the total on 91 for 6 - two wickets for Graeme Swann and one for Steve Finn, the latter playing due to injuries to Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett.
Afghanistan wicket-keeper batsman Mohammed Shahzad showed why he is one of the most highly rated talents in Associate level cricket making a typically fluent 51, continuing to play in a positive fashion despite the precarious situation. James Anderson accounted for Shahzad, well caught by Stuart Broad with the total on 122.
If England thought the innings would crumble, they were in for a shock as Christi Viljoen found willing partners in first Majid Haq, and then Boyd Rankin.
Haq and Viljoen added 59, frustrating the England attack, before Haq became the second victim for Finn, lbw for 26. Rankin joined Viljoen and the pair proceeded to record their respective highest first class scores in adding an unlikely 96 for the 9th wicket.
The new ball accounted for Rankin, caught at point by Finn off Anderson for 43 (3 fours), with the score on 277.
Just six balls later, Viljoen on 98 was brilliantly caught by Anderson at third man, denying him a fully deserved maiden hundred. Viljoen's 98 came from 189 balls and contained 13 fours and a six.
England openers Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook both survived a potentially tricky four over spell before the close, as they both scored 8 in their total of 16 for 0.
A good work-out for England's bowlers then on the first day of their UAE tour, and with the wicket traditionally being batsman friendly, they will look to score heavily on the second day in the desert.