A lightening 117-run opening stand between Andrew Strauss and Craig Kieswetter rocketed England to a seven-wicket victory with over a quarter of their innings to spare against Scotland in a sun-drenched Edinburgh
A lightening 117-run opening stand between Andrew Strauss and Craig Kieswetter rocketed England to a seven-wicket victory with over a quarter of their innings to spare against Scotland in a sun-drenched Edinburgh.
Against some inviting medium-pace bowling, England were able pick up from where they left off in the World Twenty20, hitting 21 boundaries in the first 13 overs with Craig Kieswetter and Strauss matching each other stroke-for-stroke as they registered rapid half-centuries
Coming into the game there were murmurs that Strauss may not quite fit into the big-hitting opening approach England had adopted so successfully in his absence in the Caribbean. But that charge was unfair, it was under his leadership that England first put the 'no-fear' cliché into practice, and here he emphatically made the point, stoking 12 fours in his 43-ball innings.
It made light work of Scotland's hard-fought total of 211 but Gavin Hamilton, who earlier in the day had profited against the England new-ball bowlers, paid the price for ignoring the lesson of Scotland's innings where the spinners dominated. Instead he opted for an array of equally ineffective medium-pacers.
Dishing up a combination of half-trackers and half-volleys there was no pressure until the introduction of offspinner Majid Haq in the 14th over. Haq is Scotland's best bowler and one of their few full-time professionals and his showing today glittered with nous and plenty of nerve.
He accounted for Strauss in his first over, luring him into a mistimed sweep-shot that sailed comfortably down to the deep midwicket fielder and thereafter he controlled all the England batsmen.
Kevin Pietersen was first suffocated and then defeated by Haq's teasing bowling. It was the sort of genteel occasion that was never going to get Pietersen's juices flowing and he was dropped twice before miscuing a sweep and skying a catch to midwicket.
It left Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan to calmly knock-off the total with 16.2 overs to spare. England could have chased a lot more and at one stage it looked as though they could well have to.
Kyle Coetzer and Hamilton had put on 86 after the early loss of Ryan Watson to leave Scotland well placed until Swann and Michael Yardy threw sand into their wheels. Left out of Durham's Clydesdale Bank 40 team, Coetzer sent a clear message by hitting eight crisp boundaries during a 59-ball half century.
On a good pitch it may have been too much to expect a rout from the England bowlers, but the ease at which the pacemen were dealt with was telling. Broad, suitably beefed-up after his 'strength and conditioning' break from the side dropped short too often and was merrily punished by all the batsmen and James Anderson, despite his early wicket, could not exert much control either.
It was the spinners who first restricted the scoring and then made the breakthroughs. Once Coetzer fell tamely to Yardy, chipping back a return catch, the Scotland top order folded. Hamilton had worked his way to 48 but was drawn out his ground to end up stumped off Swann. It wasn't until Douglas Lockhart's enterprising 46 at the end of the innings that Scotland offered any more resistance.
Still, having allowed Scotland to cross 200, England had not quite managed emulate the spark that took them to the World Twenty20 title by the halfway stage but Strauss and Kieswetter soon changed that. England will face a sterner test against Australia on Tuesday but they can head into it brimming with confidence.