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Blackwell stars with ton for MCC

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Ian Blackwell's century for MCC kept the Champion County match evenly balanced after the first day's action in Abu Dhabi.

Blackwell made an unbeaten 102 and then collected a wicket late in the day as Lancashire closed on 38/2, still 228 short of MCC's 266 all out.

Rana Naved removed Paul Horton under the lights at the Sheikh Zayed Stadum, before Blackwell completed a fine day at the office by trapping Stephen Moore LBW in his first over.

Simon Kerrigan earlier picked up four wickets for the county champions, with skipper Glen Chapple and Sajid Mahmood chipping in with two each after Mark Ramprakash had sent the Lancashire into the field.

Blackwell's day

Blackwell, in at number six, was MCC's standout with the bat, looking in fine early season form as he bludgeoned 16 fours in 138 balls in reaching his second Champion County ton - the first coming for Durham at Lord's in 2009.

MCC had made a poor start after electing to bat, losing their first four wickets for 73 in the opening session.

Chapple did for Gareth Rees with one which moved away and caught the outside edge, before Kerrigan took the key wicket of Mark Ramprakash, clean bowling the former England batsman.

Durham all rounder Blackwell was in fluent form though, and together with Moeen Ali he brought MCC back into the match, the pair putting on 95 for the fifth wicket.

Ali made 33 before being bowled by Chapple when he shouldered arms to one which clipped the top of his off stump, but Niall O'Brien picked up where he left off.

The Ireland wicket-keeper fought his way to 28 in a partnership of 58 with Blackwell, which covered most of the tricky twilight period.

Chapple and his fellow seamer Luke Procter were a handful as night fell, but the left handed pair proved a match for them as MCC made 109 for 1 in the second session.

However, the innings came to a rather abrupt end after the second interval as MCC lost their last five wickets for just 40 runs.

There was enough time for Blackwell to reach his 27th first-class ton though, just months after undergoing a double hernia operation, whipping Sajid Mahmood through mid wicket to reach the landmark.

"We lost four quick wickets so to get 260 odd was a good effort," Blackwell said

"Lancashire bowled pretty well in the twilight period as well, taking a few quick wickets after tea.

"Hopefully we can restrict them to less than us and if we do that then we've done OK.

"If we can remove the nightwatchman early we'll be pleased but it could be a tough first session in 37 degree heat so we've got to dig in.

Stephen Peters
 Stephen Moore
Gareth Rees
 Paul Horton
Mark Ramprakash
 Karl Brown
Hamish Marshall
 Steven Croft
Moeen Ali
 Luke Procter
Ian Blackwell
 Tom Smith
Niall O'Brien (wk)
 Gareth Cross (wk)
Gareth Batty
 Glen Chapple (capt)
Rana Naved
 Sajid Mahmood
Lewis Gregory
 Simon Kerrigan
Alan Richardson
 Gary Keedy

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