England survive wobble to take victory
England XI 185 for 8 dec (Cook 76) and 261 for 7 (Strauss 78, Nabi 3-66) beat ICC Combined XI 281 (Viljoen 98, Broad 4-46) and 164 for 9 dec (Shahzad 74, Broad 3-22)
England overcame another middle-order wobble to secure a three-wicket win against the ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI in Dubai. Andrew Strauss's 78 had put the visitors in control as they chased 261, but five wickets fell for 66 to leave the game in the balance, and it required composure from Steven Davies and Stuart Broad to ensure England started the tour with victory.
When Ian Bell departed England still needed 62 and the ICC XI were confident of pulling off an upset. However, Davies and Broad played sensibly to chip away at the target, although Broad fell with the scores level. The partnership was not without alarm, though, as Davies was put down at cover on 20 and Broad would have been run out had Majid Haq produced a better throw.
The ICC XI had declared 18.3 overs into the day to set up the final innings of the match, and the early indications were that England would have few problems as Strauss added 63 with Alastair Cook. Jonathan Trott almost departed for a duck - again to a catch down the leg side - but the umpires ruled the chance had not carried to the wicketkeeper. He and Strauss combined in a 70-run stand, which took England halfway towards their target with Strauss reaching a crisp fifty off 67 balls.
However, Strauss toe-ended a pull to midwicket off Haq, which opened the door for the ICC XI. Kevin Pietersen revived an old story when he chipped a catch to mid-on off George Dockrell, the Ireland left-arm spinner, who was drafted into the team after injury to Hamid Hassan. England were steadied by the Warwickshire pair of Trott and Ian Bell before another flurry of wickets.
Trott was caught at short leg and Eoin Morgan completed a lean match when he glanced Boyd Rankin down the leg side. Bell, who had played confidently to reach 39, then fell to a paddle-sweep, which Paul Stirling, fielding at slip, anticipated superbly as he ran around behind the wicketkeeper to take the catch.
Earlier in the day Broad took his seventh wicket of the match when he removed Mohammad Nabi, but Mohammad Shahzad ensured the lead was extended at a good rate alongside Haq before William Porterfield had the luxury of declaring. Graeme Swann was absent from the field with a slight muscle problem but came to the middle to hit the winning run.