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February 27, 2012
England 129 for 6 (Pietersen 62*, Ajmal 4-23) beat Pakistan 124 for 6 (Shafiq 34) by five runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
England produced world-class death bowling coupled with moments of brilliance in the field to snatch a five-run victory in the deciding Twenty20 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and seal the series 2-1. With Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal together, needing 35 off the last five overs, Pakistan were in control but Stuart Broad and Jade Dernbach showed nerves of steel to finish the tour on a high.
Broad bowled the 16th and 19th overs which cost just four runs apiece and that included a misfield by Jonny Bairstow at long-on in the penultimate over which gave away a boundary. Broad removed Akmal, who skied a catch to long-off after missing the first two balls of the 19th over, and Bairstow redeemed himself in the last with a powerful throw to Craig Kieswetter which found Shahid Afridi short of his crease.
Dernbach, who bowled the 17th over for six runs, was left with 13 to play with for the last and was in control except when a slower ball looped out short to be called wide. That left Pakistan needing eight off three deliveries but Hammad Azam and Misbah could only muster two singles before a trademark slower ball from Dernbach castled Misbah and set of wild celebrations from the bowler.
The series win, a notable result for Broad who is still in his infancy as a captain, will give the England squad a significant surge of confidence ahead of their title defence at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. Their remaining T20s before that tournament are all at home, so success in conditions similar - if not identical - to Sri Lanka will have provided a wealth of knowledge especially for the younger players.
Misbah, meanwhile, could well face further criticism after ending with 28 off 32 balls but it should have been the anchor innings to guide his side home. Only in the final four overs did the asking rate hit eight-an-over and some of Akmal's wild heaves to leg didn't show very clear thinking. It had been difficult to hit boundaries all evening - the match produced 15 fours and three sixes - and huge credit must go to England's bowlers and fielders. Graeme Swann built pressure for the quicks with a guileful spell and Jos Buttler, having endured a poor series with the bat, manufactured a wicket with a flat throw that was superbly collected by Kieswetter to remove the well-set Asad Shafiq.
It is a fine line batsmen tread in Twenty20. For the failure of Misbah to get his side across the line there is the success of Kevin Pietersen after his unbeaten 62, made from a sedate 52 balls, gave England a defendable total. It was clear early on that this wasn't a 150 pitch and Pietersen judged it was better to stay until the end than aim too high. Samit Patel contributed a spritely 16 and Pietersen finished the innings with a last-ball six off Aizaz Cheema which ultimately proved the difference.
What Eoin Morgan would give for some of Pietersen's end-of-tour form. His last innings of the trip was a tortured affair, as many of the 16 before this one had also been. He chipped short of long-off against Afridi on 6 and should have been stumped on 8 as Akmal added another error to a long list. But this one didn't prove costly although Morgan was left cursing a team-mate rather than himself. Pietersen drove firmly to cover, where Misbah fumbled, and didn't adhere to the adage of "don't run on a misfield", leaving Morgan stuffed when he changed his mind again.
Bairstow couldn't repeat his showing from two days ago as he misjudged the length against Saeed Ajmal, who claimed 4 for 23, and England's other young middle-order batsman, Buttler, had another tough innings. He scored four runs off the nine combined deliveries he faced from Ajmal and Afridi and was then given lbw against Ajmal playing a sweep that left him on his knees in the crease. This tour hasn't launched Buttler's international career as it appeared it could do but he can still make the World Twenty20.
Crucially, however, Umar Gul had a poor day. Trying to react to Pietersen's movement in the crease, he conceded five wides down the leg side and, in his final over, sprayed another wide outside off stump with Pietersen proceeding to hit the seventh ball to the midwicket boundary. That's all it takes to change a tight Twenty20.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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