Cheema gives England a fright
England survived an astonishing assault from Rizwan Cheema to record an occasionally nervy 16-run win over Canada in their opening World Cup warm-up match.
Cheema flayed 93 off just 71 balls, rescuing a pursuit of 244 that appeared to be in tatters at 28 for five in Fatullah.
Canada overcame his departure, with 88 still needed for victory, to move to within sight of a shock triumph, but Stuart Broad returned to remove Khurram Chohan for 44 and end the minnows’ valiant, not to mention hugely entertaining, challenge.
Broad proved his fitness after a stomach upset to finish with 5-37, ensuring the efforts of Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott did not go to waste.
They made 78 and 57 respectively, digging out a worthwhile total after Andrew Strauss chose to bat first on a predictably slow surface.
England had sprung a surprise by opening the batting with Kevin Pietersen, with Prior dropping down to number six despite opening in five of the seven one-day internationals in Australia this winter.
Although Strauss fell in the second over, bottom-edging a pull off the skiddy Chohan, Pietersen made a satisfactory 24 before he played on off the same bowler, now operating from the Pavilion End.
Ian Bell was unable to prosper - he was caught behind as he attempted to steer Chohan behind square on the off side - and Paul Collingwood failed the patience test, stumped on the charge after missing a leg-break from Balaji Rao.
But the in-form Trott was ideally suited to awkward circumstances and responded with a typically hard-working half-century which contained four fours.
Prior played admirably too, adding 54 with Trott, who perished to a mistimed sweep at off-spinner John Davison, and then 51 with Broad, after Sussex team-mates Michael Yardy and Luke Wright both fell cheaply to Henry Osinde to put England back in trouble at 158 for seven.
Prior had to rein in his attacking instincts, and was counting only his third four when he pulled Osinde to the boundary to bring up a deserved 60-ball fifty.
He was eventually bowled by a slower ball from the impressive Harvir Baidwan, whose return of 3-50 was bettered only by Chohan’s 3-34, but did enough to help add an important 63 with the tail in the last 10 overs.
A comprehensive England victory looked a formality after Broad and Ajmal Shahzad wreaked havoc with the new ball.
Working up good pace in his first match since suffering the abdominal muscle tear which ended his Ashes tour in early December, Broad bowled Nitish Kumar via inside edge after John Davison had played around a good-length ball from Shahzad.
Broad soon added the wicket of Ashish Bagai, the Canada captain backing away as he tried to carve through the off side and looking astonished when he merely presented Pietersen with a routine catch at gully.
The procession continued as Jimmy Hansra, aiming across the line, was lbw to Shahzad, and Broad had three when Ruvindu Gunasekera flailed an edge behind.
Cheema, his aggression unbridled, more than trebled the score by adding 68 with Zubin Surkari for the sixth wicket.
Surkari was well caught by Collingwood away to his left at cover, driving at Yardy, but Cheema escaped a half-chance on 68 to a tumbling Yardy off Collingwood at short third man - and greeted the return of Broad with two huge leg-side sixes.
Another attempted big hit at Broad finally saw him caught by Bell at long-off to end a seventh-wicket stand of 60 in only nine overs. He had struck 10 fours and five sixes.
Yet England’s superiority was in serious doubt as Chohan shepherded the tail - until he was last out, lbw to the returning Broad with almost four overs remaining.