Pakistan v England, 3rd ODI, Dubai February 18, 2012

Pietersen century wraps up series for England


England 226 for 1 (Pietersen 111*, Cook 80) beat Pakistan 222 all out (Afridi 51, Finn 3-24) by nine wickets

Kevin Pietersen was captain of England when he struck his last hundred in a one-day international. It sounds so long ago that it might have belonged to a different world. In some ways it did.

As the England coach left Cuttack that night he could hardly have imagined what lay in wait. A major terrorist attack on Mumbai was already underway and was about to force the postponement of England's tour of India. After England returned for a Test series played under heavy security, his relationship with the coach Peter Moores broke down irrevocably and both men lost their jobs.

It is a history that has played heavily upon him. Pietersen toyed for a while, nobody quite knows how seriously, with abandoning one-day cricket as his star began to wane. It has taken three years, three months and 37 ODIs to draw a line and when he walked down the pitch in his audacious style of old, and flicked Aizaz Cheema through the leg side, the intervening years seemed more aptly summed up not by his routine kneel and punch of the air as a slightly rueful raise of the eyebrows.

It is no longer Pietersen's one-day side now but Alastair Cook's, and it was perhaps appropriate that his batting renaissance contributed to Cook's achievement in leading England to a rare one-day series victory in Asia. England now hold an unassailable 3-0 lead with one match to play and a nine-wicket victory with 12.4 overs remaining, fashioned by an opening stand between Cook and Pietersen of 170, could hardly have been more emphatic. Whitewashed in the Test series against Pakistan, they will now be bent upon returning the favour in the final match in the same stadium on Tuesday.

Cook's only regret will be that he narrowly failed to become the first England batsman to make hundreds in three consecutive ODIs. He had reached 80 when he pushed gently forward at the off-spin of Saeed Ajmal and gave Adnan Akmal a faint catch. Cook had again been in unruffled form, his cut shot more to the fore than it had been in Abu Dhabi on a quicker batting surface, but his exit cleared the way for Pietersen to claim the limelight.

This has been an opening partnership assembled partly through adversity as Pietersen looked forward to a few sighters against the fast bowlers after a traumatic Test series against Pakistan's spinners. It now looks bedded in and that coud spell trouble for Craig Kieswetter, whose keeping has been patchy - he dropped Umar on 28 off Broad - and whose range is too limited to convince as a No. 6 in Asia.

Pietersen's habitual pre-match claim that he was in "fantastic" form was backed up by adventurous footwork and flowing strokeplay. He passed 4,000 runs in ODIs in spectacular fashion as he danced down the pitch to strike the offspin of Mohammad Hafeez over the sightscreen for six.

He was dropped on 45 when a fierce, flat pull against Aizaz Cheema smacked into the body of the onrushing Azhar Ali at deep square. That apart, his most awkward moments came against the Akmal brothers. Adnan, who had replaced his brother Umar behind the stumps, ill-advisedly tried to run Pietersen out after he had tapped the ball back to him, and apologised. Umar tried to run him out more legimately only for the ball to ricochet off the stumps and career away for five overthrows.

A sandstorm had disrupted the practice day and when the Kaus - meaning "bow" in Arabic - a vigorous south-westerly off the desert, cleared in the nick of time it revealed the same flaky Pakistan top order. They lost three wickets in 15 balls to slump to 50 for 4 before Umar, his lips daubed in luminous green sun cream, and the ageing swinger Shahid Afridi, who needs no war paint to convey his belligerence, summoned half-centuries to keep Pakistan in the match.

Umar's last two dismissals have taken Samit Patel's fielding reputation to new heights. In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, on off side and leg side, he has flung himself to the ground to hold an excellent catch. He knows that his fitness remains borderline - if you enquire innocently about the weather there is every chance he will reply "chicken and salad", and guiltily wipe the trace of an imaginary beef burger from his lips - but he is a decent cricketer and should be seriously considered to bat No. 6 for England in the Sri Lanka Test series.

Afridi was at his most restrained: that is he gambolled along at only a run a ball. He began in haywire fashion but then played responsibly, a straight six off Graeme Swann's offspin his most emphatic moment. Like Umar, he fell soon after reaching his half-century, bowled by James Anderson as he whipped to leg.

For the third successive match, Finn pronounced himself as fine a young fast bowler as anyone in the world. He took two wickets with the new ball, bowling straight and finding steep bounce at close to 90mph. He finished with 3 for 24, taking his series' tally to 11 wickets at 8.36 runs each.

Pakistan had won 13 ODIs out of 14 going into this series and had also whitewashed England 3-0 in the Test series, but such statistics seemed from another age. The loss of Imran Farhat, caught at the wicket as he struggled to cope with Finn's hostility, seemed a blip. But Stuart Broad caused Azhar Ali to flirt with one outside off stump, Mohammad Hafeez was lbw to an inducker from Finn and Misbah-ul-Haq dangled his bat at Broad to edge to first slip.

Broad conceded 16 from his first over, his mood not enhanced by a no-ball that prevented him from dismissing Azhar to a catch by Eoin Morgan at gully. His interrogation of the umpire Aleem Dar was borne out of frustration, but it looked disrespectful. Broad does not need sand stinging his face to become a bit irascible; a ball in his hands normally does the trick.

Shafiq's first run would have brought his downfall if Pietersen's flat throw had hit the target and he did not learn his lesson. He was unsettled by Swann's lbw appeal as the ball ran into the legside and had to dive back into the crease as Cook threw the ball to the wicketkeeper, Kieswetter, but the third umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, ruled that his bat was not grounded behind the line. It summed up Pakistan's day.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rashid on February 21, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    Bravo Pieterson! - at 2-0 in the limited overs series after a mauling in the tests and all the pressure off you perform. Your class is permanent!

  • Big on February 20, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    I guess England really does not care about this ODI series win as their players have already indicated in past that ODI format should be removed. So the celebrations are moot.

  • wasib on February 20, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    My future ODI team: Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Hammad Azam, Shahid Afridi, Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Talha, Sadaf Hussain

  • Cricket on February 20, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    @ Ramiz Haider on (Feb 19 2012, 11:59 AM GMT) :- TWO MISTAKES IN YOUR TEAM. SOHAIL TANVEER WAS GIVEN TOO MANY OPPORTUNITIES AND FAILED. SAME ABOUT SALMAN HE WAS NOT GOOD IN WI. HE WAS GIVEN FULL SERIES OF TESTS, ODI's . . My Mohammad Hafeez,, Shahzaib Hassan,, Umar Akmal,, Misbah-ul-Haq(C) ,, Asad Shafiq,, Shahid Afridi HAMMAD AZAM,, SARFRAZ AHMED+,, Saeed Ajmal,, Aizaz Cheema,, JUNAID KHAN, . . . . . (Mohammad Talha is injured and sent back to Pak.) . . . Pak should have sent a replacement player brought in Sadaf Hussain. Also Sarfraz is required in Keeping but he is not on Tour. Bad selection.

  • Cricket on February 20, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    @ AlbertPintoGussaHua on (Feb 19 2012, 12:35 PM GMT) : - Yes. ODI is a completely different format and should be headed by a different Captain like England. The thinking, the approach, the attitude, the plans every thing should change but be attacking. Misbah has gone completelly defensive. Look there is no doubt in my mind that Cook is a good player. But he is not as great as the figures in this series suggest. These scores have been partly aided by poor captainship by Misbah. And the English bowlers are good, I like them. But the same set of bowlers had bowled in the India Series and also in the World Cup. There they were hammered. So it turns out that the English bowlers were also assisted by some inept Pak batting. The difference between the teams is that inspite of the test whitewash Eng knows what is their team. And Pak is not sure whether Shafiq sould play of Azhar should play in ODI's. Yonis is the elephant in the room. Gul & Riaz was their worst Gamble.

  • Cricket on February 20, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    @ dmqi on (Feb 19 2012, 12:59 PM GMT) : - Fully Agreed. Try the players waiting on the bench. They cant be too bad. After all the selectors have selected them over some otherwise no point in carrying them series after series. Another tall fast bowler Mohd.Talha was in the squad for SL and Bangladesh but never got an opportunity. Ultimately at the at the start of this tour he picked up a back injury and had to be sent back. Players getting injured becouse of waiting too long on the bench. And all this when we know that Umar Gul is a rubbish bowler. Had Misbah tried a few options during the easier series of Ban, SL and Afg. Then i am sure that Sadaf Hussain & Mohd.Talha would have displaced Gul & Riaz and they would have performed a lot better.

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    Whatever it was... Pietersen was really awesome in the middle...loved his the way he batted

  • syed naveed on February 20, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    for 20-20 international matches,PAK should select a team from players who have performed well in that format of the game in our domestic circuit.if our seniors had failed in that form of a game than drop might need a new captain for this 20-20 team.all the other cricketing sides come up with new faces in 20-20 cricket,we say we have a lot of talent in our Country,but unfortunately we come up with the same faces,most of the time ,in all three format of the games.

  • Andrew on February 20, 2012, 1:40 GMT

    Like the test series taught us that England have room for improvement these ODIs have shown up some of Pakistan's issues. A welcome fillup for England and sobering experience for Pakistan however it shouldn't be allowed to eclipse some of the real issues England had in the tests or the good cricket that Pakistan played. It should however be a warning against hyperbole for critics and supporters alike especially in the wake of comprehensive victory or defeat.

  • Phil on February 19, 2012, 23:07 GMT

    @cricketingstargazer: still blaming he bowlers for the first test defeat? If they batsmen had done their job in the first innings, then bowling the opposition out for 338 would have been enough for the batsmen to put pressure on Pakistan in the last innings.

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