Finn and Cook repeat tricks in England win
England 250 for 4 (Cook 102, Bopara 58) beat Pakistan 230 all out (Misbah 47, Finn 4-34) by 20 runs
England's revival in the one-day format continued as impressive death bowling secured a 20-run victory in Abu Dhabi and a 2-0 series lead to ensure another hundred from Alastair Cook laid the foundations for success. Pakistan made it a much tighter chase than two days ago, but paid the price for not having a batsman convert into something substantial, as Cook had managed for the second innings in a row.
The game was England's when Misbah-ul-Haq was breathtakingly caught by Craig Kieswetter as the wicketkeeper ran back under a spiralling top edge and clung on despite needing to dive full length. The other crucial moment had come two overs earlier - in the 45th - when Shahid Afridi, who was dropped at long-off when Stuart Broad couldn't hold a tough chance, then took two boundaries off Samit Patel's last over to threaten a charge. However, he swung and missed at James Anderson who then completed a maiden against the hapless Abdur Rehman.
Misbah could only watch on as Rehman was beaten delivery after delivery by England's quick bowlers to turn the closing stages of the chase from tough to near impossible. He only managed 1 from 12 balls despite being given a free hit by Steven Finn who then responded by hitting the stumps twice in two deliveries; the second ending Rehman's forlorn stay. Finn cleaned up the final two wickets to replicate his opening-match figures of 4 for 34 in another reputation-enhancing display.
Pakistan didn't help their cause with some gifted wickets. They had played sensibly to see off Finn's early threat - his first spell was five overs for six - but Mohammed Hafeez chipped Anderson to midwicket from the second ball of the bowling Powerplay. His opening partner, Imran Farhat, was run out when he lost awareness of where the ball had gone following an lbw appeal. Broad swooped from his follow through and hit with an under-arm flick.
Patel then underlined how useful he is becoming to England's one-day team. On a wearing surface he proved difficult to score off (until Afridi's brief foray) and claimed the key scalp of Younis Khan who missed a paddle sweep. Nine overs later, as Azhar Ali and Misbah were starting to build a partnership, Patel beat Azhar's attempt to cut with a ball that skidded through.
Each time Pakistan threatened England found the breakthrough and Patel's impact on the match extended to his often-derided fielding when he held a fiercely struck cut from Umar Akmal low down at cover. Akmal wasn't sure it had carried but, unlike as is often the case, the third umpire was happy the catch was clean.
Cook's role in the field should not be underestimated either. He switched his bowlers around confidently and reacted to situations more swiftly than has previously been seen. The last three days couldn't really have gone much better for him as he became the first England captain to score back-to-back one-day hundreds.
Cook's timing and placement stood out. Early on he punched Aizaz Cheema off the back foot between mid-off and cover then, when spin was introduced after surprisingly being overlooked for five overs, collected consecutive boundaries off Hafeez with a flick through midwicket and another drive. He survived one chance, on 28, when Akmal dropped an edge off Afridi to highlight the risk of not playing a specialist wicketkeeper. It became very costly.
A strong slog-sweep took him to 49 and his fifty came from 66 balls. For lengthy periods he was content to keep the scoreboard ticking with nudges and flicks, but would occasionally kick-start the scoring with a small flurry of boundaries as was the case during the batting Powerplay when he dispatched Umar Gul. Having reached his hundred off 118 balls, he couldn't quite take his innings as deep this time when a leading edge looped back to Afridi.
It wasn't only Cook's innings that produced similarities to the opening match. Kevin Pietersen was again out-scored in the opening stand which ended on 67 when he was trapped lbw by Saeed Ajmal from around the wicket. He had previously survived a close lbw shout on 23 against Afridi which led to Pakistan using up their one referral. Significantly for England, however, this was the first innings of the tour where they weren't dominated by Ajmal as he ended with a moderate 1 for 54.
Jonathan Trott, who fell first ball to Afridi in the opening match, again didn't look entirely convincing against the legspinner but settled in alongside Cook in a partnership that always has the potential to spark debate. The stand produced 49 runs in 11 overs until Trott edged a short, wide delivery from Cheema to Akmal.
It was then over to Team Essex again. Ravi Bopara took time to play himself in and his innings never became an onslaught even in the closing overs, but the pitch was not conducive to free-flowing scoring. He and Eoin Morgan, who finally spent some time at the crease, ensured no late collapse and the way England batted throughout suggested they had a clear total in mind that they were confident of defending. Their calculations proved astute.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo