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The Bulletin by Jenny Thompson
December 19, 2005
Fresh from consigning England to their worst-ever defeat, Pakistan rubbed in the salt with a sparkling bowling performance which took them to a series win at Rawalpindi. It was their tenth victory in 11 ODIs but it was no easy task; a composed display from the bowling attack was required to hold off Kabir Ali and James Anderson's last-gasp charge. They added 33.
England had looked dead and buried at 114 for 8, chasing 211, but Ali added 50 for the ninth wicket and Ian Blackwell and then he and Anderson took England agonisingly close. In the end, though, Pakistan held their nerve to win by a slender 13 runs.
They were always going to be up against it after an average showing from their batsmen. Inzamam-ul-Haq had been the mainstay of their innings, his unbeaten 81 taking Pakistan past 200, while Shahid Afridi added 34. But it was just enough.
Poor old England, though - just when they thought their bowlers had restricted Pakistan to a realistic target, their batsmen narrowly failed to deliver. Andrew Flintoff top-scored with 40, and Ali posted an unbeaten 39.
To be fair to both line-ups, the pitch was the trickiest of the series to date, but it was definitely a day which belonged to the bowlers. England's attack were first up after Inzamam chose to bat. Pakistan were wobbling at 34 for 3, but Inzamam's 82nd one-day fifty took them to 210, although this was still way short of his reckoning that 270 was par.
While others around him struggled to cope with a turning pitch and some hostile England bowling, Inzamam was as laissez-faire as ever, easing the ball over midwicket, cover, straight - in fact, wherever he fancied - as he moved to an unbeaten 81.
There weren't quite the fireworks that Pakistan's batsmen have been dishing up of late, in fact it was England's bowlers who were the sparklers. Liam Plunkett removed their big hitters Afridi and Abdul Razzaq in successive balls to neutralise any danger of a big rearguard and his contribution was just one part of a convincing England bowling display - at long last.
Flintoff and James Anderson got the ball rolling, and the wickets tumbling; their pressure caused three wickets to fall for no runs to leave Pakistan in some trouble. Salman Butt and Younis Khan fell in successive balls, then five balls later Kamran Akmal was back in the hutch, too, as Pakistan's top order succumbed to the squeeze.
Flintoff bowled a nagging line and length, and bristled with hostility, while Anderson - who was immediately upgraded from Supersub to opening bowler - proved a worthy foil, using the slower ball to good effect to deceive Akmal. Plunkett slipped in an offcutter later to scythe down Afridi and followed next ball with Razzaq's wicket to puncture Pakistan's momentum late on.
England's work was only just beginning though. Pakistan came strongly at them with the new ball as Rana Naved-ul-Hasan took two wickets in two balls to rock their top order and then Shoaib Akhtar followed up with the wicket of Vikram Solanki.
In a double wicket maiden that rocked England, Naved got the ball to swing away and was twice rewarded for his efforts; causing Matt Prior to thick-edge through to the keeper and then trapping Andrew Strauss plumb first ball. It wasn't long before Akhtar got his dues either, banging in a 94mph-belter which Solanki could only edge onto his stumps.
Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick set about repairing the innings, adding 45 for the fourth wicket. But their partnership was less than convincing against a polished Pakistan attack, and it wasn't to last. Flintoff had a reprieve on 5, when his hooray to long leg had Kamran Akmal and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan careering towards each other on course for a collision. They missed each other, but also the catch.
Yet it was England who were hurtling to the danger zone. Naved thought he had Trescothick on 9 - and so did the team, the crowd and the Snickometer. Even Trescothick appeared to concur, too, to judge by his guilty expression. But the umpire gave him a stay of execution.
It wasn't to last. He struggled against Arshad Khan's first two deliveries - alarming rippers - and then he played the third for non-existent turn. It was a great bowling change after Naved had become a little wayward.
If the wheels were coming off for one bowler, though, the entire bodywork of England's batting was in a state of collapse. Flintoff was next to fall courtesy of another good change: Afridi coming into the attack to bolster the spin attack, and he trapped Flintoff in front. Then Geraint Jones capitulated to his legspin, popping up the easiest of chances to gully before Afridi made it three with Plunkett.
England needed their tailenders to pull something really special out of the bag - and the final two pairings nearly delivered. Shoaib Malik came on to bowl the 48th over and had Anderson in some trouble against his spin. Anderson nurdled his way to his highest one-day total of 11 but then came the fall, as Akhtar dismissed him with one which the batsman could only fend to slip.
With each member of Pakistan's attack firing, it proved to be too tall an order and the teams will return here on Wednesday with only pride on offer for England.
Salman Butt run out (Solanki) 15 (34 for 1)
Poor backing up, but a brilliant dive and throw from a kneeling position at cover
Younis Khan b Flintoff 0 (34 for 2)
Bottom edge onto leg stump after attempting a drive
Kamran Akmal b Anderson (34 for 3)
Offcutter comes back between bat and pad
Mohammad Yousuf lbw Ali 11(58 for 4)
Played across line, trapped on back leg in front of middle
Shoaib Malik c Strauss b Blackwell 23 (118 for 5)
Slog-swept to deep square leg
Shahid Afridi b Plunkett 34 (174 for 6)
Slow offcutter removes middle peg
Abdul Razzaq b Plunkett 0 (174 for 7)
Perfect yorker first ball
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan c Collingwood b Ali 17 (208 for 8)
Leading edge to backward point
Shoaib Akhtar c Collingwood b Flintoff 0 (208 for 9)
Tumbling dive to left at backward point
Mohammad Sami c Jones b Anderson 0 (210 all out)
Outside edged rising delivery
Matt Prior c Kamran Akmal b Naved-ul-Hasan 6 (13 for 1)
Swung away, thick outside edge
Andrew Strauss lbw b Naved-ul-Hasan 0 (13 for 2)
Full and swinging; hit low and plumb
Vikram Solanki b Akhtar 6 (26 for 3)
Crashed inside edge onto stumps
Marcus Trescothick b Arshad Khan (70 for 4)
Played for turn, none forthcoming; clipped off-stump
Paul Collingwood c Shoaib Malik b Sami (77 for 5)
Inside-out drive, on the up, to point
Andrew Flintoff lbw b Shahid Afridi 40 (99 for 6)
Played across the line
Geraint Jones c Naved b Afridi 12 (106 for 7)
Spooned tame cut to gully
Liam Plunkett lbw b Afridi 7 (114 for 8)
Flipper hit back foot
Ian Blackwell run out 29 (164 for 9)
Veered off line running to non-striker's end
James Anderson c Younis b Akhtar (197 all out)
Steered to first slip