Dubai: Fast bowlers Chris Tremlett and Graham Onions gave England's selectors further food for thought as they spearheaded their side's 100-run win over a Pakistan Cricket Board XI on Friday.
Just a day after spinner Monty Panesar took 5-57 to throw his name into the hat for consideration for next Tuesday's first Test against Pakistan in Dubai, Tremlett took 2-32 and Onions 3-38 as the PCB XI were bowled out for 150 having been set a target of 251 for victory.
With England likely to play three fast bowlers in the Test along with spinner Graeme Swann, and James Anderson and Stuart Broad certain to fill two spots, Tremlett's and Onions' efforts had the look of a bowl-off, although Tremlett played down that idea afterwards.
"I don't think you could call it a bowl-off," he said. "I just went into it trying to get through the game and to take confidence from playing again and get miles in my legs, but I wouldn't say it was a bowl-off."
"Bunny (Onions) has come into the squad because of Bresnan (returning home injured) and I'm not saying there's a pecking order but it was just nice to be out there playing again, to be honest."
Tremlett and Onions wrecked the PCB XI's top order with impressive opening spells, reducing them to 16-3 before a revival of sorts by Usman Salahuddin (32) and Fawad Alam (51). But when Salahuddin became Monty Panesar's 500th wicket in first-class cricket, one of three wickets on the day and eight in the match for the left-arm spinner, the batting side's slide towards defeat became unstoppable.
England used five bowlers, with Panesar finishing with 3-46 while Swann again managed only one wicket in the innings, as did part-time off-spinner Kevin Pietersen, who dismissed Alam.
For Tremlett it was a delight just to get onto the field after a frustrating six months which saw him sidelined first by a long-term back injury and then, at the start of this tour, an eye infection that has still not cleared up.
"It's been hard work getting back from my back injury and I have taken a lot of confidence from this game," he said after bowling in sunglasses to ease the irritation to his right eye.
The one downside for England was that Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan did not get more time at the crease.
Pietersen scored just 3, Bell an unbeaten 12 and Morgan did not get to the crease as Jonathan Trott (93) and captain Andrew Strauss (62) dominated proceedings in the morning session before the declaration at 181-3.
Pietersen has scored 57 runs in four innings on tour, Bell's tally stands at 54 and Morgan has 15 from three trips to the middle, but Tremlett said the team's second victory of the tour following an earlier win against an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI was the more important matter.
"Our approach going into these games is that we want to win," he said. "Jonathan Trott batted well and got a score on the board so unfortunately the guys who didn't get the time in the middle missed out. It's about the team and not the individuals, and winning the game was good."
England 269-9 declared (Alastair Cook 133, Matt Prior 46, Kevin Pietersen 38; Yasir Shah 5-76, Mohammad Talha 4-42) and 181-3 declared (Jonathan Trott 93, Andrew Strauss 62; Yasir Shah 3-38), defeated PCB XI 200-9 declared (Raza Hasan 50 not out, Talha 31; Monty Panesar 5-57, Chris Tremlett 2-30) and 150 (Fawad Alam 51, Usman Salahuddin 32; Graham Onions 3-38, Panesar 3-46, Chris Tremlett 2-32) by 100 runs