Pietersen century seals whitewash for England
England 241 for 6 (Pietersen 130, Kieswetter 43) beat Pakistan 237 (Shafiq 65, Dernbach 4-45) by four wickets
What a difference a few days makes. It was suggested that Kevin Pietersen had the last two matches of this series to save his one-day international career and less than week later he has back-to-back hundreds to his name - the second a career-best 130 - a spring in his step and a strut at the crease as he guided England to a whitewash against Pakistan with four balls to spare.
Pietersen became the second England batsman in the series, following captain Alastair Cook, to hit consecutive hundreds and it was the second time Pietersen had achieved the feat, following the South Africa series in 2004-05 at the start of his career. It's long been a criticism of England's one-day game that there aren't enough individual three-figure innings so it will provide huge satisfaction for Andy Flower and Graham Gooch, shortly to become the full-time batting coach.
The series, too, is a huge feather in the caps of Flower and Cook. The 4-0 scoreline is England's first whitewash against anyone other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since they beat Australia before the 1997 Ashes. That was one of many false dawns for England's one-day side and there needs to be more evidence to find out how this unit develops, but having lost 5-0 in India last October this has been the ideal response.
This was a better display from Pietersen than his hundred on Saturday and it was also his longest ODI innings. Early on his lost regular partners - Cook fell second ball of the innings - and the pitch, used for the second time in three days, was worn and a touch slower. Pakistan packed their side with five spinners and just one quick but only Saeed Ajmal, who removed Eoin Morgan and the debutant Jos Buttler in the space of three balls to leave England wobbling on 68 for 4, posed a significant threat.
Pietersen's main moment of concern came when he was saved by the DRS on 80 after getting into a horrid tangle trying to scoop Abdur Rehman over his shoulder. He was given out lbw by umpire Zameer Haider but replays showed he'd been struck outside off stump. Last week Pietersen spoke about DRS being his biggest challenge; here it was his biggest saviour. The review system made an important intervention when Samit Patel, on 5 and with England needing 44 off 40 balls, was given lbw by Haider but had also been struck outside the line. It wasn't a great evening for the umpires with Cook earlier given not out before Pakistan reviewed.
Patel, on the day he was given an ECB incremental contract, played a calm hand after Craig Kieswetter - who produced his first substantial innings in the middle order - had been run out to end the crucial stand of 109 that turned the chase around. Pietersen went to 99 with a pulled six off Junaid Khan but the hundred was celebrated in far more subdued style than the first. He was aware the victory hadn't been sealed and proceeded to rubber-stamp the result with a flurry of boundaries off Junaid and a straight six off Ajmal. He couldn't quite finish the game, skewing a drive to point with two needed, but the process of restoring a reputation was well advanced.
Again, England had shown the value of one player getting a hundred. In contrast Pakistan's brittle batting line-up again cost them the game, failing to make the most of a solid base provided by Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, the future of Pakistan's batting, who added 111 for the second wicket. England's reshuffled bowling attack, including debutant Danny Briggs and the recalled Jade Dernbach, stifled the middle order with Misbah-ul-Haq left to gather what he could.
It was another tale of Pakistan's batsmen failing to build on starts as four of them passed 20 but none bettered Shafiq's confident 65. On a surface being used for the second time in three days it was difficult for new batsmen to force the pace straight away, demonstrated by the way the innings fell away. England rested James Anderson and Stuart Broad while Graeme Swann had a minor calf strain, which gave the chance to Briggs claim a commendable 2 for 39 and Dernbach 4 for 45. The latter cleaned up the lower order with Pakistan losing their last six wickets for 35 runs.
Dernbach had a difficult tour of India, where his obsession with variation worked against him, and then had a tough experience in Australia's Big Bash League where he was dropped after two games for Melbourne Stars. Consistency still proved an occasional problem for Dernbach but he also maintained the happy knack of picking up wickets, including Mohammad Hafeez second and Azhar for a stubborn 58.
Shafiq had the perfect opportunity, against a weakened attack, to score his maiden ODI hundred but chopped on against Bresnan in the 23rd over. From there life became much tougher for Pakistan. Umar Akmal was promoted to No. 4 with the chance to build an innings couldn't gathered momentum and provided Briggs with his first international wicket when he lofted a catch to long-off. Briggs showed calmness and control in his first appearance, quickly recovering himself from a couple of loose deliveries against Azhar.
The scoring rate had seized up as Azhar approached his maiden ODI fifty and Shoaib Malik struggled to time the ball. The sense with Azhar, albeit in the very early stages of his career, is that he doesn't have a range of gears to move through in the one-day game. Malik does not have the excuse of inexperience to fall back on and his return to Pakistan colours has not been a happy one in this series. Having used up 33 deliveries for 23 he missed a sweep against Briggs in the spinner's last over. When a team can win without three of their main bowlers it bodes well for the future.
Edited by Alan Gardner