Pietersen holds his nerve
Kevin Pietersen underlined his worth to the England cause with a match-winning half-century in the World Twenty20 warm-up clash against Scotland.
Pietersen, who sat out the NatWest Series triumph over West Indies with an Achilles injury, marked his return to the side by shepherding England to a six-wicket win under the Trent Bridge floodlights.
His unbeaten 53 saw them to a far from daunting target of 137 with an over to spare, easing the nerves caused by a minor wobble at the top of the order.
Pietersen’s innings, which spanned just 39 balls, will share the morning headlines with Scotland’s dogged resistance, but Eoin Morgan deserves his share of the credit for making a mature 23 not out.
The left-hander accompanied Pietersen across the finishing line, unfurling a handful of his impudent one-day strokes before Pietersen completed the job with a pulled six over deep backward square-leg.
Pietersen was responsible for restoring order to the England batting effort after they slipped from 42 without loss to 57 for three on the back of two wickets in two balls from off-spinner Majid Haq.
Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright made a steady if unspectacular start and appeared to be finding their rhythm before Wright drilled Jan Stander to mid-off, where Haq parried the ball before completing the catch.
Stander returned the favour when Bopara, having made 32 at quicker than a run a ball, swatted Haq to long-on, and Owais Shah found cover off the next delivery.
Paul Collingwood survived the hat-trick ball, but a leading edge off Gordom Drummond found Fraser Watts at deep mid-off to spark fears of an upset within the England camp.
Pietersen eliminated that possibility by moving through the gears with ease, combining astute placement with excellent running and a regular supply of boundaries to ensure the required run-rate rarely went higher than seven an over.
While England will be grateful to avoid slipping up against one of the tournament’s lesser lights, Scotland can take much credit from a disciplined display with the ball and in the field.
They were restricted to 136 for five after winning the toss and choosing to bat, thanks largely to Collingwood’s haul of 2-18.
There was a wicket apiece for Dimitri Mascarenhas and Adil Rashid, while Ryan Sidebottom bowled tidily in conceding just 18 runs from four overs.
Scotland were indebted to Colin Smith’s 45 off 32 deliveries, the veteran adding 62 for the third wicket with Kyle Coetzer, who made a run-a-ball 34.
They performed a similar role to Pietersen and Morgan, supplying much-needed impetus after Scotland stuttered to 41 for two in just under eight overs.
Mascarenhas restricted Scotland from the start, bowling a maiden opening over before removing opener Watts in his next.
Captain Gavin Hamilton attempted to make amends for the sluggish start, drilling Mascarenhas for the first six of the innings over long-on, but fell to Yorkshire leg-spinner Rashid at deep midwicket attempting to hit a second successive boundary.
His demise brought together Coetzer and Smith, both of whom seized on the opportunity to attack England's spin pairing of Rashid and Pietersen in the middle overs of the innings.
Rashid, a replacement for the injured Andrew Flintoff in England's squad, should have had Coetzer stumped by James Foster for 22, but square-leg umpire Amish Saheba ruled against the appeal and did not have the option of a third umpire because this match is not a full international.
Coetzer punished that error by hitting Rashid's next ball for six in an over which cost 17, only to pick out Pietersen at long-on trying to lift Collingwood over the rope.
Wicketkeeper Smith continued to attack during his entertaining innings, which included four fours and a six, before he offered Collingwood a simple return catch.