Kevin Pietersen dug England out of trouble as they beat Scotland by six wickets at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.
Kevin Pietersen underlined his massive importance to England's World Twenty20 campaign by securing a six-wicket victory after a laboured performance in the warm-up match against Scotland.
Just 24 hours after announcing England had now developed into a team no longer reliant on him to deliver when it counts, Pietersen ensured there was no shock result against a spirited Scotland side by clinching a victory heavily dependent on his talents.
Chasing Scotland's 136 for five, Pietersen finished the game with an over to spare by pulling a six over mid-wicket to put the gloss on an otherwise subdued display in front of a sparse Trent Bridge crowd.
But apart from Pietersen's unbeaten 53 off 39 balls and an unorthodox unbeaten 23 from Eoin Morgan, England presented little evidence that they can emerge as winners of the tournament in a few weeks' time.
Without strike bowler James Anderson and off-spinner Graeme Swann, who were both rested as a precaution against ankle and back niggles respectively, England's new-look attack were unable to prevent Scotland recovering from a tentative start to reach a respectable total.
Scotland never realistically looked likely to win the match, but wickets in successive balls from off-spinner Majid Haq ensured England's run chase was more pressurised than they expected and it needed another display of Pietersen's special talent to settle the issue.
The underdogs had begun nervously, perhaps still reeling from the walkout of experienced seamer John Blain from their squad at the weekend following a furious row with captain Gavin Hamilton, and took 11 deliveries to score their first runs off the bat.
That start contributed to them struggling to 41 for two in the eighth over, only for a spirited 62-run third-wicket stand off 41 balls between Kyle Coetzer and Colin Smith to give them renewed momentum.
Hampshire all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas had restricted Scotland from the start, delivering a maiden first over and bowling opener Fraser Watts in his next over.
Hamilton attempted to make amends from the sluggish start and hit Mascarenhas for the first six of the innings over long-on, but he fell to Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid on the mid-wicket boundary attempting to hit a second successive boundary.
His demise brought Coetzer and Smith together, who seized on the opportunity to attack England's spin pairing of Rashid and Pietersen in the middle overs of their innings.
Rashid, a surprise replacement for the injured Andrew Flintoff in England's squad, should have had Coetzer stumped by James Foster for 22 but square-leg official Amish Saheeba ruled against the appeal and did not have the option of a third umpire because the match is not a full international.
Coetzer immediately punished that error by hitting Rashid's next ball for six in an over which cost 17 runs as Scotland accelerated towards three figures.
Durham batsman Coetzer fell when he picked out Pietersen at long-on, attempting to hit England captain Paul Collingwood over the top after hitting 34 off 34 balls.
But wicketkeeper Smith went on to hit a superb 45 off 32 balls, which included four fours and a six before he gave Collingwood a return catch with just three overs of the innings remaining.
Scotland could even have set a bigger target, but middle-order batsman Neil McCallum struggled to combat a new tactic developed by Stuart Broad, who bowled around the wicket to the right-hander in the final over and conceded only two runs by slanting the ball across him outside off stump.
England began their reply with much more purpose after Ravi Bopara built on his growing reputation with a superb 32 from 29 balls before giving Haq his first wicket by picking out long-on.
Haq had already caught fellow opener Luke Wright, who was preferred to Kent's Rob Key at the top of the order, at mid-off and then tempted Owais Shah into driving straight to extra cover off his next delivery during an impressive spell of two for 19 from his four overs.
Scotland, however, offered little threat other than Haq and although seamer Gordon Drummond had captain Paul Collingwood caught at long-off, England were never looked likely to suffer an embarrassing defeat once Pietersen relaxed at the crease.
Steve Smith couldn’t get a hundred today. The Badger could.
England get Steve Smith out for just 80. Great success.
England are utterly infuriating, they really are.
Joe Root > Don Bradman. That’s just maths.
Can England get a match-winning lead?
Changes for both teams ahead of The Oval.
England’s Test-match batting is broken. Time to get back to basics.
The WTC scoring system is stupid, but the fix is easy. Get it done.
The Badger lets off steam.
Joe Root is shepherding the ‘righteous’ England team through ‘the valley of darkness’ and must ‘lay his vengeance’ upon those closest to him