Kevin Pietersen takes England home after Michael Yardy checks Pakistan

• Pakistan 147-9 England 148-4
• England win by six wickets

It seems to have been an eternity coming but Kevin Pietersen finally found a pitch and bowling attack to his liking and produced an innings of real substance and quality yesterday to beat Pakistan.

For a few minutes mid-innings, when he pulled up lame while completing a routine single and sank to the ground, there were fears that his left ankle, one that had given him so much trouble and necessitated an Achilles operation last summer, had failed again.

It was, it transpired, nothing more than a knock, self-inflicted with his bat, and after treatment he buckled on his pads once more to play majestically for an unbeaten 73 from 52 balls, creaming the winning boundary, his eighth to go with two straight sixes, through extra cover with three deliveries of the match in hand. It was perfectly paced T20 batting in which the bad balls were belted and the good worked to his advantage.

Pakistan are, though, a mercurial side as capable of producing brilliance one day and plumbing the depths another. This was one of their infuriating matches. Mistakes cost them dearly, both with bat and in the field. No loss was greater to them than that of Shahid Afridi, their charismatic and totemic leader, who bewilderingly ran himself out first ball. Half an hour of him can transform a match. But without the impetus that he can inject, they fell short, at 147, of a defendable total on what must be the best batting pitch of the tournament.

In the field they were woeful, or at least Saeed Ajmal was. Perched at mid-on and mid-off for the left and right-hand England openers, he dropped Craig Kieswetter twice. On the first occasion he apparently attempted to throw the ball up in celebration before he had completed the catch. Herschelle Gibbs did the same once in a World Cup match at Headingley and has paid for it ever since as the butt of an apt, but sadly apocryphal barb from the beneficiary Steve Waugh. Michael Lumb was also dropped before the power play was done.

Later, too late perhaps to make a difference to the outcome but symptomatic for all that, Pietersen, then 21 and flowing smoothly now like the rum on a Friday night in Oistins, was also put down by Abdul Razzaq off his own bowling, a sharp chance especially to a seamer in his follow-through, but one that should have been taken.

Pakistan, almost habitually, have tended to gather momentum as they progress but they will need a strong revival in their remaining two games of this intermediate stage of the tournament if the reigning champions are not to make an early exit.

After the retarded pitches at Providence Stadium, it was a welcome change to find a rock-hard surface on which the new ball could bounce and not lose its velocity. The previous day, the South African duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel had given an unkind hurry-up to the Afghans on a similar pitch so England had some inkling of what it might do.

Having won the toss and opted to field first (a chance for the bowlers who because of the Guyana rain had scarcely got loose in the tournament) it was evident that their strategy had adapted with the change in conditions. On slow pitches, back-of-a-length and just plain short have been meat and drink to batsmen.

Here, though, the ball flew through from Ryan Sidebottom's opening delivery, a pre-planned bouncer that Kamran Akmal hooked for six but perilously close to Tim Bresnan over whose head it just carried, to the last when even the old ball had good carry.

If the length ball becomes relatively easy from which to score, when batsmen can simply hit through the line, that at ribcage height, whether straight or not, is harder to control and consequently carries its dangers. All three seamers, Sidebottom, Bresnan and Stuart Broad, made good use of the pitch. The most stifling bowling though came from Michael Yardy, an ugly bowler but one credited by Paul Collingwood as having considerable cricket nous.

Essentially Yardy appears to read the batsmen better than many, which in T20 is a considerable part of the battle. Thus he varies his pace and line cleverly. The wickets of Mohammad Hafeez, caught at short third man, and Misbah ul Haq, bowled attempting to switch-hit his final delivery were his reward at a parsimonious cost of 19. A botched run-out in the final over subsequently cost England a further 15 runs but this really was an insufficiently challenging total providing they made a significant start. Inside five overs Lumb and Kieswetter had added 44 before Lumb was stumped for 25, and a further 21 before Kieswetter, skying Razzaq into the stratosphere, was well taken at long on for the same score.

Pietersen, though, looked massive at the crease, an intimidating presence, and found the ideal ally in Collingwood, whose one-day skills include the ability to get off the strike and out of the way. Together they put on 60 for the third wicket, Pietersen adding a second straight six off Ajmal to that he had hit earlier from Hafeez.

Although the England captain was caught at long on, England were within 22 runs of victory now with four overs still remaining. The loss of Eoin Morgan, bowled by Ajmal as he swatted across the line, was little more than a slight inconvenience. Pietersen saw it through for England.


Mike Selvey at the Kensington Oval

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Kevin Pietersen takes England past Sri Lanka into World Twenty20 final
The England batsman scored a serene and unbeaten 42 as England cruised past Sri Lanka in St Lucia to reach the World Twenty20 final

Mike Selvey in St Lucia

13, May, 2010 @7:07 PM

Article image
Kevin Pietersen is flying but England must improve, says Andy Flower

England's team director Andy Flower has singled out Kevin Pietersen and Mike Yardy for praise but says his side must improve in the World Twenty20 final

Andy Bull

14, May, 2010 @11:36 PM

Article image
Kevin Pietersen is the true force behind England's World Twenty20 win | Andy Bull

Andy Bull: Andy Flower calls the batsman a 'superstar athlete' and in Barbados he lived up to every word of that billing

Andy Bull in Barbardos

16, May, 2010 @8:36 PM

Article image
Pakistan 148-7; South Africa 137-7 | World Twenty20 match report
South Africa's problems with team balance finally capsized their campaign as an 11-run defeat to Pakistan sent them packing and guaranteed England a semi-final berth

Andy Bull at Beausejour Stadium

10, May, 2010 @5:18 PM

Article image
Michael Clarke's captaincy helps Australia rediscover their mean streak
Australia seek to maintain their recent dominance over Pakistan when the teams meet in the World Twenty20 semi-final in St Lucia

Andy Bull in St Lucia

13, May, 2010 @3:51 PM

Article image
England progress after rain wipes out Ireland's reply

England went through to the World Twenty20 Super Eights on superior overall run rate after rain washed out their group match against Ireland

Mike Selvey in Georgetown

04, May, 2010 @11:13 PM

Article image
Duckworth-Lewis co-creator defends method after England Twenty20 loss
Frank Duckworth believes critics should, if anything, take issue with the minimum number of overs required in Twenty20, not his method

Andy Bull in Barbados

04, May, 2010 @4:07 PM

Article image
Kevin Pietersen guides England past Pakistan – and into the Super Eights of the World Twenty20

England qualified for the Super Eights stage of the World Twenty20 after beating Pakistan in the group stages by 48 runs

Mike Selvey at The Oval

07, Jun, 2009 @8:42 PM

Article image
James Anderson believes England can win World Twenty20 in Caribbean
The fast bowler James Anderson talks up England's chances in the World Twenty20 which starts on Friday

Barney Ronay

25, Apr, 2010 @2:24 PM

Article image
England 148-3 Australia 147-6 | World Twenty20 final match report

Mike Selvey's match report: England beat Australia by seven wickets with 18 balls of the match remaining to win the World Twenty20 title in Barbados

Mike Selvey at Kensington Oval

16, May, 2010 @8:03 PM