England concluded their preparations for the defence of their T20 World Cup crown with a narrow win over Pakistan in Colombo.

After being bowled out for 111, with Saeed Ajmal taking 4 for 14, the holders were forced to rely on their death bowlers, with Jade Dernbach (3-14) and Danny Briggs (3-15) restricting Pakistan to 96 for 9 in their 20 overs.

After Briggs took opener Mohammad Hafeez in the first over, Dernbach completed the job, with Pakistan requiring 38 from the last five, bowling Shoaib Malik, before taking the wickets of Abdul Razzaq and Kamran Akmal at the death.

The performance of the young pair hands coach Andy Flower a selection dilemma heading into England's the opening group game against Afghanistan, and 21 year old Briggs believes the match represented decent preparation.

England rallied to restrict Pakistan to 96 for 9. Reuters

"It came out really nicely, which is pleasing and really good in our preparation," Briggs said.

"It's good to go into a tournament with confidence, and I hope that can carry on. We're definitely playing good cricket at the moment and we've adapted pretty well to the conditions.

"Some of the lads struggled towards the end - it was hard to manoeuvre the ball around," Briggs said of England's innings after they had chosen to bat first.

"But we knew we were always in the game, with any score on the board, and the way we bowled in the second half showed that."

While the performance from England's bowlers will give Flower reason for encouragement, the failure of many of the middle order in testing conditions, which are set to be a theme of the pitches in Sri Lanka is likely to be of concern.

After his second T20 half century against Australia in the last warm-up game, Alex Hales failed with the bat, while Craig Kieswetter's form has also hit the buffers, with the wicket-keeper batsman having scored one half century in his last nine one-day innings.

Any failure with the bat during the World Cup will again lead to criticism over the omission of the banished Kevin Pietersen, whose international exile will continue this winter after he was left out of the test match squad for the tour to India.