All-round Pakistan flatten Essex
Pakistanis 204 for 4 (Shahzaib 49, Salman 41) beat Essex 138 for 9 by 66 runs
Pakistan, whose Twenty20 pedigree has rarely been in doubt despite the turbulence in their cricket, continued their successful trip to England as they cruised to a thumping 66-run win over Essex in their Twenty20 tour match at Chelmsford. Such was their dominance, Pakistan did not have to rely on one player to win the game for them as every member contributed, first as the top-order raced to 204 for 4 and then as wickets were shared around by the bowlers as Essex's innings finished on 138 for 9.
Shahzaib Hasan launched Pakistan's innings with gusto after Salman Butt, his opening partner and stand-in captain as Shahid Afridi rests up with a muscle strain, won the toss and decided to have a bat. Chris Wright and Maurice Chambers were taken apart in their opening spells, and though the introduction of spin and medium pace in the form of Tony Palladino and Tim Phillips did stem the flow of runs somewhat, it wasn't until Grant Flower had Shahzaib caught behind for 49, with the score on 84 in the 10th over, that the hosts were given some respite.
Even then, however, the lull was short-lived and after Salman and Kamran Akmal had been dismissed by Danish Kaneria and Phillips, respectively, Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal combined in a 75-run partnership that took up only 31 balls and boosted Pakistan's score into the stratosphere.
Kaneria had bowled two good overs against his countrymen before the batsmen went ballistic, launching his third over for 30 as Essex resigned themselves to a massive run-chase. Umar took the score to the brink of 200 before he fell to Chambers, but Abdul Razzaq was on hand for a final push as he struck his first ball to the boundary.
Razzaq then knocked the stuffing out of Essex's top order to put paid to any hopes of an unlikely run-chase, removing Mark Pettini and Flower in his first over and rattling Matt Walker's stumps in his second as the hosts slipped to 11 for 3. Shoaib Akhtar bowled an economical opening spell from the other end without success, but Wahab Riaz found the edge of John Maunders bat before Malik cut James Fosters' fighting innings short to reduce Essex to 40 for 5.
From then on, the match provided little more than bowling practice for the Pakistanis, and as they eased off the pressure a touch Phillips took the opportunity to register his first half-century in Twenty20 cricket. While Pakistan continue to look a confident outfit, his innings was the only bright spot for Essex.