Pakistan flounder against united England
Pakistan's captain, Shahid Afridi, offered no excuses after his team capped a dreadful week by collapsing to their lowest total in Twenty20 history. In front of a paltry crowd of 5,821, one of the lowest gates ever seen for an England international, Pakistan were brushed aside for 89, en route to a six-wicket defeat with a full six overs to spare.
"We were very bad, very inexperienced and immature from my side and from all the batsmen," said Afridi. "I think we played very bad cricket. I didn't want to sound negative before the game - I wanted to be positive as the captain - but we didn't play well and we're still making mistakes. At this stage all we want is one victory, because that would be really good for the team to keep the morale high."
With three of their key players suspended by the ICC- their senior opening batsman Salman Butt and both of their front-line seamers in Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - Pakistan played as if they were on a hiding to nothing. "We are not enjoying ourselves in the field," said Afridi. "We need to forget everything [that's going on]. I know it's difficult but we should be professional cricketers and focus on the cricket."
England's victory was their seventh in a row in this format - a feat that equalled the record jointly held by South Africa and Pakistan's World Twenty20-winning team from 2009, of which Afridi was an integral part. The contrast between then and now is stark. "England are united because they are winning continually," he conceded. "Victory brings unity to the team."
Regardless of the bleak circumstances of the contest - with the autumnal conditions, a concurrent England football international, and the off-field issues all conspiring to undermine the attendance - Collingwood was delighted to be able to follow up his team's achievement in winning the World Twenty20 with a clean sweep in their next outing.
"In this form of the game it can be tough to win consecutively," he said. "It just takes one performance from the opposition to take it away from you, and to have that World Cup, you can have added pressure on you as well. But the way we've played over the last two games, the boys are enjoying that added pressure. They tried to come hard at us today - you could sense that was their approach - but we kept taking wickets and really applying the pressure."
On the subject of the scheduling, however, Collingwood was unequivocal. "We've been saying that for ten years," he said when asked if the game was suffering from overkill, adding that a wet Tuesday in September was every bit as likely to have scuppered the gate receipts as Pakistan's ongoing problems.
Afridi, who has rejoined the squad since quitting Test cricket back in July, believed that a change of format - and the addition of two new players in Asad Shafiq and near seven-foot-tall fast-bowling sensation, Mohammad Irfan - would help his team emerge from the doldrums and get that all-important victory.
"It's not easy, it's very, very hard, but I'm not letting my team down like this, not in the one-dayers," he said. "At the moment our morale is very down, day by day, so it will be a big challenge to compete in the one-dayers. But we have some time, and me, my coach and the team, we will sit together and talk."
However, there was not, he insisted, any talk about wanting to quit the tour and get back to the sanctity of Pakistan. "I think we are all enjoying England because it is like a second home," he said. "A lot of players have families here. You'd have to ask them personally, but I am happy to be here."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.