England Women nervously won their World Twenty20 warm-up with Pakistan, scraping home by two wickets with a ball to spare in Dhaka.
In an unofficial match where each team could use the regulation 11 batters but the whole squads could rotate to bowl and field, Pakistan posted 106 for six with uncapped spinners Jodie Dibble and Rebecca Grundy impressing.
Captain Charlotte Edwards’ 21 from the top of the order and number four Lydia Greenway’s 34 kept England, wearing their 'solar red' shirts for the first time, in contention despite the regular loss of wickets.
When Georgia Elwiss was eighth out, 12 runs were still needed from eight deliveries. But Danni Hazell and Anya Shrubsole held their nerve to give the 2012 runners-up a nail-biting victory.
Edwards’ side next face New Zealand on Friday, also in Bangladesh’s capital, ahead of Monday’s tournament opener versus West Indies in Sylhet.
Despite losing the toss, England made a dream start as Hazell followed Kate Cross’ runless over with a double-wicket-maiden, ousting openers Javeria Khan and Nain Abidi in consecutive balls via a mid-off catch and lbw verdict respectively.
Nida Dar and Bismah Maroof steadied the ship against Dibble and Grundy, whose combined seven overs cost just 29 runs, until the latter had Maroof held at backward point thanks to Dibble’s good, low catch.
Dar and skipper Sana Mir rebuilt with a steady fifty partnership, soon after which Dar retired out on 36 at the end of the 18th over when Mir had hit Elwiss consecutively for four and six.
Natalie Sciver had Mir stumped for 36 from a leg-side wide - thanks to wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor’s athleticism - and Qanita Jalil taken on the midwicket boundary before Sumaiya Siddiqi smote Cross over the long-on rope from the innings’ penultimate delivery.
Edwards gave the reply early impetus with consecutive pulled and cover-driven fours in Anam Amin’s first over.
Although Siddiqi snared Heather Knight and Taylor via catches behind and at midwicket respectively in back-to-back overs, Edwards and Greenway responded positively with a four each off Jalil in the eight over.
Edwards fell for 21 at the start of the 10th, chipping Sadia Yousuf to short extra-cover, and half way through the innings 60 were needed.
Greenway typically swept and reverse-swept to good effect, but Sciver went lbw to Asmavia Iqbal and Tammy Beaumont, who soon found two fours, was run out by a direct-hit from short-fine leg.
With England requiring 16 from the last three overs, Asmavia struck twice in two balls with Greenway holing out to mid-on and Fran Wilson bowled. In the next, Elwiss was trapped in front attempting to swing Siddiqi to leg, but Shrubsole hit the over’s last ball for four.
Four singles in the last set of six proved enough, seamers Asmavia and Siddiqi unlucky to be on the losing side with respective figures of 3-17 and 3-14.
photos Janos Schmidt