Alex Hales' hitting lifts title defence hopes despite Kevin Pietersen absence

England 172-6 Australia 163-6 (England win by nine runs)

Colombo

England's young guns showed Australia enough precocious talent yesterday to convince the opposition the World Twenty20 champions may retain their title, even without Kevin Pietersen.

Alex Hales' half-century and handy contributions from Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow powered England to 172 for 6 in their first warm-up match. Only the world-class precision batting and hitting of Michael Hussey (71) then managed to make a game of it at the Nondescripts CC, before Australia fell nine runs short.

It all left Australia all-rounder Shane Watson in no doubt that, although Pietersen's absence is no help to England, they have the right youngsters to compensate.

"As a player there's no doubt he will be missed – Kevin Pietersen is an amazingly talented batsman," Watson said. "In the last [Twenty20] World Cup, he was one of the big reasons why England won it. But England have a number of very exciting young guys coming in, who can do a really good job as well."

Watson was equivocal about how big a disadvantage it might prove for England to have to get by without their most gifted batsman, still out in the cold after the breakdown of his working relationship with coach Andy Flower and former Test captain Andrew Strauss.

"It won't have too much of a dent in the England side, because they'll be able to make up for it pretty well," he said. "But any time you lose a player of Kevin Pietersen's class it's going to be hard for you."

Among those tasked with replicating the Pietersen effect on the field is his direct replacement at the top of the order, Hales. The tall opener made a remarkable start, in the very first assignment of his mission improbable when he hit England's highest ever Twenty20 individual score of 99 against West Indies on his home ground at Trent Bridge three months ago. Yesterday, he fared well too – making 52 to underpin England's total as he and Wright shared an important second-wicket stand of 88 as Australia were beaten for the fifth successive match this year.

"We were always pretty confident," said Hales. "We've got great faith in our bowlers, and they set pretty good plans – even throughout the middle stages, when Mike Hussey was smashing it. I thought we fought back really well towards the end."

Meanwhile, Kamran Akmal struck an unbeaten 92 as Pakistan chased down an imposing target of 186 to beat India by five wickets in yesterday's warm-up match in Colombo.Wicketkeeper Akmal struck five fours and six sixes – including the match-winning hit off the first ball of the final over – to guide Pakistan home with the aid of veteran Shoaib Malik, who contributed a quickfire 37 not out.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
film
Sport
football
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker