Pakistan 89, England 90-4 | Second Twenty20 international match report

• Pakistan 89, England 90-4
• England won by six wickets

Tonight, in front of a pitifully small crowd, Pakistan batted like a side who on the whole would rather have been elsewhere and paid the price. Hit by accusation, allegation, insinuation and innuendo they are a team utterly devoid of spirit playing against the best side in the world in this format, one that just keeps getting better. So it was no surprise that England won their seventh successive Twenty20 international, equalling the record held jointly by Pakistan themselves and South Africa.

The ease with which they achieved victory was another matter. Pakistan, batting first on winning the toss, had no answer to the tactics and discipline of the England bowlers, led by Tim Bresnan with three for 10, their 89 all out the lowest score, by 36, that they have made in all their previous 39 matches (although better than a couple of Test efforts this summer).

A Pakistan defeat then was a matter only of when rather than if, and England's response was predictably rapid, for after Steve Davies had clipped his first ball from Shoaib Akhtar just within catching range of Umar Akmal at midwicket and on to the boundary, Craig Kieswetter then belted an astounding six over extra cover from a free hit against Umar Gul as he overstepped, and added two more fours for good measure, 19 coming from the second over.

If it was an incendiary start then it still pays not to get careless for after Shoaib then came round the wicket to the left‑handed Davies and forced a gentle catch from him to midwicket, Kieswetter was run out from the next ball as the new batsman Ravi Bopara pushed gently to backward point and his partner backed up to too far to beat Umar Akmal's direct hit at the bowlers end as he tried to regain his ground.

Two further wickets followed: of Paul Collingwood (21 and top score of the match) who flicked Shoaib for six before failing against Saeed Ajmal's doosra; and of Ravi Bopara, suckered into trying to pull Afridi and lbw. Thus, as it had been on Sunday, it was left to Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy to finish things off which they did unfussily with six overs remaining.

After an insipid batting display on Sunday, Pakistan made some effort to redress things by rejigging the batting order to get smiters in early. It served only to play into England's hands for although this was the same pitch used for the first game, it was behaving differently. The new ball was going through with good carry from short of a length, rather than hanging into the pitch as it had been, and both Bresnan and Stuart Broad, the latter distinctly rapid at times, took full advantage with liberal use of the bouncer.

Right from the start it paid dividends for after Kamran Akmal had taken 11 from Ryan Sidebottom's opener, the next four overs produced four wickets, Akmal hoisting a short ball to midwicket, Mohammad Yousuf, dropped by Morgan at backward point before he had scored, hooking to long leg, and Shazaid Hasan and Afridi falling in the same Broad over, the former gloving an attempted hook to the keeper and the captain flailing another short ball high in the air to point. At 23 for four, with the power play gone, and the spinners to come on a surface that would still turn, things were already desperate.

Worse was to follow when Graeme Swann, brilliant on Sunday, was introduced to the attack. Umar Akmal is an adept young cricketer in this form of the game, and twice he belted the off‑spinner flat, back over the bowler's head for six, the first of them the first boundary for 46 balls.

Swann is too canny to be perturbed by this, and although Akmal's partner Mohammad Hafeez had taken the trouble to come down the pitch presumably to caution him against getting over‑zealous, it was to no avail: Akmal leaped from his crease, swung, missed and was bowled. Swann merely shrugged. In the dug‑out the face of the coach, Waqar Younis, was as thunderously dark as some of the evening clouds.

There was to be no comeback as England maintained their discipline. Mohammad Hafeez, a static figure, was run out from backward point by Sidebottom, a collector's item, having spent 32 balls over his 14. Fawad Alam, who had weighed the innings down in similar fashion in the first match, was caught at the wicket first ball attempting to force Swann.

The only partnership of any merit came from Razzaq and Gul, with Gul once swivelling to pull Broad over the longest boundary for six. However, Razzaq swung hugely at Sidebottom and was caught at short third man, Gul pulled the next ball to deep square leg and Shoiab, having hit Bresnan for only the sixth four of the innings to go with the three sixes, was comprehensively yorked to give the bowler his third wicket. It really was poor.

Contributor

Mike Selvey at Swalec Stadium

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