Stuart Broad confident England can end on high despite bowling of Umar Gul giving Pakistan T20 series lead
The traffic clogged half-built roads around the stadium were the first signPakistan fans had finally emerged to support their side and they were rewarded with a narrow victory over an England team whose runs chase finished in a dead end.
With 32 needed from 26 balls and seven wickets standing England were strong favourites to win and silence a noisy crowd.
But an over from Umar Gul brought two wickets for three runs including the crucial dismissal of Ravi Bopara, the batsmen who looked set to see England home, and sucked all momentum out of the innings as they failed to find the boundary in the final five overs.
“It is the sort of position you should win from,” admitted Stuart Broad, the England captain. “The thing about Twenty20 is that it fluctuates so much.
“We needed 8.8 an over at one point but then Ravi got it down to seven but in Twenty20 you never think it is in the bag as one over can change a match. Umar Gul did that bowling with reverse swing and brilliant yorkers. We need to show as an England team we can improve and make sure we come back on Saturday right in the zone again.”
Matches at this stadium have barely attracted a crowd to fill one third of the ground, and even though there were still swathes of empty seats the attendance this was by far the biggest of the tour and underlined which format of the game Pakistan fans enjoy the most.
Their team responded with a gutsy performance twice saving themselves from perilous positions. With the bat, Shoaib Malik and Misbah ul Haq steadied nerves at 73 for five to add 71 crucial runs to post a competitive total. With the ball, Gul and Saeed Ajmal proved a combination too powerful for England’s inexperienced lower order conceding only 13 in the crucial overs 15 to 19.
England had started their innings confidently. With Alastair Cook left out of the side, Kevin Pietersen took on the role of leader with the bat and he played on a different plane to everyone else. He stroked four fours and a straight six off Shahid Afridi but fell trying to clear the ropes again when he was caught at deep midwicket. Eoin Morgan again scratched around leaving Bopara to manage the run chase but even he struggled for fluidity despite taking 14 off a Junaid Khan over which appeared to set the team on the road to victory.
After Bopara’s dismissal Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler faced the arduous task of batting against Gul and Ajmal with the pressure on. Buttler fell trying to flick Gul over fine leg and Samit Patel was out next ball lbw to a fast and full delivery. Ajmal’s doosras and Gul’s inswinging yorkers were too much for Bairstow who failed to hit a four from the 21 balls he faced, but England will hope he learned from the exposure gained playing international cricket in such a tight corner.
The Pakistan innings had been squeezed by Graeme Swann’s three for 13 and they had as much difficulty reading Jade Dernbach’s slower balls as England have endured trying to pick Ajmal.
The heavy traffic signalling the start of the Dubai weekend meant many supporters were not in the ground as Awais Zia, the debutant Pakistan opening batsman, gave the match a rollicking start by taking on Steven Finn, the best bowler in the one-day series. He tried and failed to smash his first ball in international cricket for six , hit his third for four over mid off and pulled Finn in his second over for six. Finn was furious as his first two overs cost 23. But he was also clever, dismissing Zia with a slower ball.
Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq appeared comfortable until the ninth over when England regained control as Pakistan slumped 68 for one to 73 for five. Shafiq was given out run out by Swann, a close call which changed the complexion of the innings. Swann picked up a throw at the bowlers’ end and in trying to flick it back to the stumps, his elbow knocked off the bails. The laws state the arm of the hand holding the ball up to the shoulder is considered “live” and Shafiq was out, although he looked stunned when the news came up on the big screen.
Two balls later Hafeez swept to the man at deep midwicket and in his next over Swann picked up a double wicket maiden.
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