Steve Davies and Stuart Broad shared a resolute seventh stand of 61 to help an unimpressive England to win the three-day tour opener against ICC Combined XI by three wickets here on Monday.
It was a case of second batting failure for the tourists as, chasing 261 to win, England owed the win to captain Andrew Strauss (78), Ian Bell (39) and Jonathan Trott (35) on the final day at the Global Cricket Academy ground.
Kevin Pietersen (one) and Eoin Morgan (three) flopped a second time in the match and when Bell departed at 199-6, England looked down and out before Davies (37 not out) and Broad (31) saved their blushes.
Despite the win England's batting looked rusty ahead of the first of three Tests against Pakistan which starts here from January 17.
England will have another opportunity to settle their batting on the slow, dusty pitches here as they play the second warm-up game against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI, also in Dubai, from January 11-13.
Strauss and Alastair Cook (26) looked solid during their opening stand of 63 but Afghanistan's spinner Mohammad Nabi (3-66), George Dockrell (1-28) and Majid Haq (1-42) derailed on the run chase.
Strauss and Trott added 70 for the second wicket but England lost five more wickets before reaching the 200-mark. Strauss hit 13 boundaries and a six during his 96-ball innings but his departure put England in trouble.
It was left to Broad and Davies to carry their team within one run of the victory.
Earlier, the ICC Combined XI declared their second innings at 164-9 with Afghanistan's wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad notching a second half-century of the match with a defiant 74.
Shahzad, who scored 51 in the first innings, held the Combined XI innings and added 43 for the eighth wicket with Haq who scored 256 not out. Shahzad hit 13 boundaries during his attractive 104-ball knock.
Broad finished with 3-22, a match haul of seven wickets, while James Anderson took 2-62.