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The England team registered an emphatic 9 wicket win over Pakistan in the 3rd one day match of the 4 match series in Dubai and took the series (3-0) with it. Pakistan having won the toss on yet another placid pitch, slumped to 50/4 early in their innings owing to some poor strokeplay before Shahid Afridi (51) and Umar Akmal (50), staged a mini recovery for the men in green and helped them post a respectable 222 all out in their 50 overs. England's response was tremendous as their openers Alastair Cook(80) and Kevin Pietersen(111*) made short work of a mediocre target and gave the Pakistani bowlers a thorough whacking. England romped home with 9 wickets and 12.4 overs to spare.
Having finally gotten a chance to bat first in this series, Pakistan made a meal of the opportunity. They lost 4 wickets for less than fifty runs, a start that had them playing catch up for the rest of the match. Imran Farhat, who was impressive in the last match, was the first to go in the fourth over, caught behind off Steve Finn, dangling at a wide one outside off after making 9. Azhar Ali coming in at No.3 was his usual circumspect self, taking his time early on.
Mohammed Hafeez wasn't there to waste any time though as he took on Broad in his very first over, smashing him for 16 off it to get their innings kick started. Azhar wasn't to get in and provide support this time around though as his was the second wicket to fall, playing a loose dab outside off stump off Broad and feathering one to the keeper after making 5. Hafeez too had only flattered to deceive at the other end as he missed a full off cutter from the best bowler in the series Steve Finn and was trapped in front for an ominous looking 29 with the score on 49/3. Misbah, usually Pakistan's steady influence in the middle order too played a poor shot to Broad, granting him his second wicket by driving loosely outside off, thus giving a simple catch to Graeme Swann at slip.
With the score at a sheepish 50/4, Pakistan's lower middle order finally stepped up. Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq played cautiously for a bit to avoid further disarray. The pair played the spin of Swann and Samit Patel without much trouble and got the scoreboard moving again. Akmal, this time looked very determined as he was much more selective with his shot making. The duo added 44 runs for the 5th wicket before Shafiq (19) was run-out against the run of play. He attempted to steal a leg-bye off Swann and was unfortunate as the bat bounced of the turf as Keiswetter removed the bails from an accurate flick by Alastair Cook.
The fall of the fifth Pakistani wicket brought 'Boom Boom' Afridi to the crease and the crowd at the Dubai international stadium finally got to see a fighting display from the veteran. Unlike most recent occasions, Afridi was content to play the waiting game early on and chose the right balls to go after. Pakistan's two most exuberant players in Akmal and Afridi had surprisingly knuckled down and showed some fight. The duo never lacked the shot making ability and now that they coupled it with some discipline, the next hour or so was rather fascinating to watch.
Afridi mixed caution with aggression beautifully as a smacked Swann for a huge six over long off early in his spell only to later make use of the spread field to knock of singles. Umar Akmal at the other end, having benefited from a dropped chance by Keiswetter early in his innings, preferred to keep taking the singles. Both the batsmen got to their half centuries and took Pakistan to a postion from where they could post a respectable score.
Afridi and Akmal played most of the batting powerplay with great restraint, before Akmal (50) was caught brilliantly by Samit Patel at mid-wicket, tumbling to hold on to the ball one handed at full stretch. That wicket ended a fine 78 a run stand and broke the momentum of the Pakistan innings. Afridi too, then ran out of patience as he departed in the very next over, bowled by Jimmy Anderson off the inside edge looking for a big hit after making a responsible 51 off just 55 balls. That break through, ended Pakistan's hopes of posting a total in the region of 250 as England tightened the screws on the Pakistani tail.
Umar Gul was the sole lower order batsman who was able to keep the scoreboard moving with some good strikes as the rest were just sitting ducks against the pace of Finn in his second spell. Even as Umar Gul launched a couple of big sixes off Swann and Patel, Pakistan were held back by Adnan Akmal who couldn't rotate strike at the other end. The wicket keeper was finally put out of his misery by Finn, bowled for 9 off 22 deliveries. Gul then took matters to his own hands and got Pakistan to 222 in their 50 overs with a handy unbeaten 23 off 24 deliveries despite losing all his partners at the other end.
The England reply got off to a splendid start with the in-form Alastair Cook and former skipper Kevin Pietersen getting into their stride early against the Pakistani new ball bowlers. Pietersen started off as the aggressor in the partnership as he took a liking to pace on the ball from Umar Gul and Aizaz Cheema and played some authentic cricketing strokes. Cook carried on his stupendous form from the previous two games and stroked the ball wonderfully off the pacers too. He played a marvellous pull shot for six off a slower ball early in his innings, which set the tone for what was to come. The pair raced to their 3rd 50 run stand in as many games at faster than a run a ball and this time, looked in no mood to relent. Pietersen in particular, who was guilty of throwing away starts earlier in the series, made amends in this game and was determined to score big.
Both batsmen were very assured against spin too. Pietersen smacked Afridi over long off for a huge six to signal his intentions while Cook was busy milking Ajmal for over a run a ball. Pakistan had no way back as the experienced duo stormed past a hundred and beyond to take England within sight of the target with plenty to spare. Pietersen was handed a lifeline whilst on 47 as he was dropped on the deep square leg boundary by Azhar Ali, who soiled a straight forward chance. That reprieve cost Pakistan more as both batsmen added over 150 for the opening wicket and were marching towards their individual hundreds.
Cook, in sight of a record 3rd consecutive ODI hundred fell agonizingly short of a well deserved ton as he nicked an away turner from Ajmal through to Adnan Akmal after making 80. That was the only moment of joy for Pakistan in the entire innings as Kevin Pietersen got stuck into Pakistanâ€™s bowling in the latter half of the innings, setting the stage for a big victory. He hoicked one more six off Hafeez on his way to a swashbuckling century off just 92 balls and steered his team home to a comfortably win. Eoin Morgan, promoted to number 3, helped complete the rout as he made a good looking 24.
England reached their target of 223 in just 37 and a bit overs to cap off a resounding victory in the 3rd one day match and with that also fittingly took the series 3-0.
England: Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, J Trott, R Bopara, E Morgan, C Kieswetter, S Patel, S Broad, G Swann, J Anderson, S Finn
Pakistan: M Hafeez, I Farhat, A Ali, A Shafiq, Misbah Ul Haq, U Akmal, S Afridi, A Akmal, U Gul, S Ajmal, A Cheema
Pakistan 222 all out (50 overs, 4.44rpo)
S Afridi 51(55) S Finn 3/24
U Akmal 50(92) S Broad 3/42
England 226/1 (37.2 overs,6.05 Runs per over)
K Pietersen 111*(98) S Ajmal 1/40
A Cook 80(98)
File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20
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