England win low scoring warm-up
England 111 (Wright 38, Ajmal 4-14) beat Pakistan 96 for 9 (Briggs 3-15, Dernbach 3-14) by 15 runs
England's batsmen were suspect against spin but their bowlers, without Graeme Swann, worked their way through Pakistan's brittle line-up to comfortably defend 111 at the P Sara Oval. On a slow pitch with turn and bounce, left-arm spinners Danny Briggs and Samit Patel did the early damage before Stuart Broad weighed in with a testing spell. Jade Dernbach ensured there would be no resistance from the Pakistan lower order and sealed England's second warm-up win. While England's struggle against quality spin was not unexpected, what was heartening to see was the way the defending champions scrapped to defend an insubstantial total, after their lower order had capitulated against Saeed Ajmal.
After winning the toss, England had crumbled from 106 for 5 to be bowled out for 111, losing their last five wickets in eight balls, three of them to Ajmal. Their innings never really took off, with only Luke Wright making an impression with a steady 38.
Both sides opened the bowling with left-arm spin, and England found that Raza Hasan's flat and quick deliveries were difficult to get away. Alex Hales lasted three balls and Craig Kieswetter's attempt to hit out ended when he was caught at deep midwicket off a slog sweep, both men falling to Hasan.
The innings meandered along, with England unable to find a way to attack the spinners. Eoin Morgan summed up England's approach. He tried to paddle Ajmal's first ball and missed, succeeded the second time, and was caught behind trying to cut a quick one.
Jos Buttler was bowled after he missed a sweep off Ajmal and the lower order had no clue what the offspinner was upto. Stuart Broad lobbed a catch to Mohammad Hafeez first ball; Steven Finn guided Ajmal to slip second ball.
Pakistan seemed much more comfortable against spin, but started self-destructing soon. Young Briggs flighted the ball consistently, and Pakistan took the bait immediately. Hafeez survived a stumping opportunity off Briggs after a big charge, but slog-swept the bowler to deep midwicket off the last ball of the first over. Imran Nazir did the same a few overs later, after which Patel sneaked in a tossed-up delivery through Nasir Jamshed's defences. Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal were largely in control before throwing it away through needless forcing strokes against Broad and Briggs.
Broad was unplayable at times, getting short deliveries to straighten around off stump, and his mid-innings effort of 4-1-12-2 started to turn the game England's way. He got Shahid Afridi nicking one such ball to the wicketkeeper in the 15th over, a wicket-maiden.
Pakistan still needed only 39 off 34 deliveries with four wickets remaining, though. But the asking-rate rocketed to more than nine following tight overs from Finn and Patel. Against Dernbach's variations, Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq never looked like middling the big strokes Pakistan needed. Failure to chase 112 with all the batsmen in the squad playing today was a reminder to Pakistan of their batting frailties as they head to Pallekele for their group games.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo