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England bounce back with a convincing win over Pakistan

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The English team erased the memories of their embarrasing defeat to Holland by convincingly beating Pakistan by 48 runs in their final Group B round robin match at the ICC T20 World Cup. The batsmen led by Kevin Pietersen (58) did a great job posting 185 and then the bowlers restricted a strong Paksitan batting line up to just 137 to book a place in the Super 8 stage of the competition.

Younis Khan won the toss and elected to bowl first under cloudy conditions. It was the 4th time that the current strip was being used in the tournament, w hich prompted England to play two spinners in the person of Adil Rashid and Graeme Swann. The in-form opening pair of Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright made a nice start collecting two boundaries in the very first over bowled by Yasir Arafat. Mohammed Aamer who kept the last edition's star performer Sohail Tanvir out of the team shared the new ball with Arafat and was successful straight away, dismissing Bopara caught superbly at point by Shoaib Malik.

Kevin Pietersen came in at number three to make his first start in the tournament after missing out against Holland due to injury. He combined beautifully with Wright and boundaries kept coming with ease. Aamer's second over was taken for 15 with Wright smashing two fours and a six. It was Arafat's turn next to get the treatment with 21 runs coming off the over including a huge six by Pietersen. Umar Gul was brought on as first change and he was effective straight away uprooting Wright's off stump with a Yorker. England were nicely placed at 63-2 at the end of six overs with Pietersen looking in great touch.

Spin was introduced as former skipper Shoaib Malik took up the challenge, but he was expensive in his first over giving away 13 runs. Younis Khan then gave the ball to Shahid Afridi and replaced Malik by Saeed Ajmal from the other end. The duo bowled three tight overs between them conceding just 14 runs. Afridi was finally taken for runs after two tight overs, as he was hit for a boundary by Owais Shah and then a massive six by Pietersen.

Aamer was brought back for his second spell, but it did not work for Younis with both batsmen clobbering a six each. The momentum was with England with the scorecard reading 128-2 after 13 overs. Gul was given the responsibility to break the stand and he responded in great fashion as he broke Shah's leg stump into two. His over was followed by a tight one by Ajmal which saw just three singles coming off it. Gul could have had added another wicket to his kitty in the 16th over but Arafat made a complete mess of a simple catch to give Collingwood a life. The English skipper made Pakistan pay, striking two fours off the next two balls to bring up the 150 in the 16th over.

Ajmal who had bowled splendidly up till now bowled a magnificent 17th over which saw two wickets falling. First to go was Collingwood caught at long off for 15 and then came the big scalp of Pietersen caught for 58 at short third man. Arafat followed it up with a tight 5 run over which halted England's progress towards the 200 run mark. Mascarenhas and Foster tried their best to get the big hits with Foster hitting Afridi for a maximum over long-off. Gul then ended the innings with a good over with no boundaries coming off it. The final total which England could manage was 185, a score which was going to be a good challenge for Pakistan.


eng_win.jpgDimitri Mascarenhas was given the new ball and he was getting some early swing to keep the batsmen guessing. Salman Butt did manage to find the fence with an exquisite cover drive which brought about a loud cheer from the Pakistani supporters. Mascarenhas came back hard in his 2nd over dismissing Ahmed Shehzad well caught by Collingwood at cover for just 4. Butt was doing all the scoring in the initial overs as he struck two fours off Stuart Broad's first over. But Broad showed why he is rated so highly  as he got two wickets in his 2nd over. Kamran Akmal was sent back caught at deep square leg for 6 and then came the big wicket of Butt caught at point for 28. Pakistan were 41-3 after six overs and now it was down to Malik and Younis to steer the ship.

The duo did just that but they were unable to keep pace with the asking rate. Ones and twos were the major contributors in their stand of 46 with just one four coming in the next three overs. The ploy of playing two spinners was working nicely for England with both Swann and Rashid bowling tightly and racing through the overs. The shackles were finally broken in the 11th over with two boundaries being hit but by that time the asking rate was already above 12.

With 103 needed off the last 8 overs Luke Wright was brought on to bowl his medium pace and he got rid of Malik caught behind for 20. Afridi came in at number six and he was Pakistan's last hope. But the all rounder was struggling to find his touch as dot balls continued to plague the batsmen. He played 12 balls for just 5 runs before holding out at mid-on to give off-spinner Graeme Swann his first wicket. Younis Khan was keeping the scoreboard ticking over all this while, but just wasn't scoring quickly enough to keep his side in the hunt.

The overs kept racing by as the target became impossible with 61 needed off 12 balls. Broad then came back to take his third scalp in the form of Arafat. Pakistan ended their essay at 137-7 with Younis remaining unbeaten on 46. It was a much needed win for England which puts them through to the last eight.

Pakistan now take on the Netherlands in the final group B encounter on Tuesday, knowing that the two are competing head-to-head for the second qualifying spot from the Group. A crushing win for Pakistan, would in all likelihood send the Netherlands home, while a competitive loss should be enough to see the Dutch qualify for the super 8. England have a positive net run rate of 1.18, while Pakistan are negative 2.4. The Netherlands are stuck in the middle at positive 0.05. Since the concept of Group winners doesn't exist in the competition, and the slots for the Super 8 are predetermined, England can watch the final game of the Group in peace knowing that it will be matchematically impossible for both Pakistan and Netherlands to leapfrog them in the points table.


England 185-5 (20 0vers)

Pietersen 58          Ajmal 2-23

Pakistan 137-7 (20 overs)

Younis 46*             Broad 3-17

 Photograph Copyright: ICC

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