Star batsman hits consecutive tons and is back in love with one-day game
ENGLAND match-winner Kevin Pietersen believes he has finally rediscovered an appetite for one-day cricket after a second century in as many matches ensured his side completed a comprehensive 4-0 whitewash over Pakistan in Dubai.
Captain Alastair Cook elected to shuffle his pack with the series already in the bag but a bowling attack minus the threat of James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad still managed to restrict Pakistan to a below-par 237, with Jade Dernbach taking 4-45 and spinner Danny Briggs picking up two wickets on debut.
England’s response got off to a faltering start with Cook lasting just two balls but a beautifully controlled innings of 130 from Pietersen, his highest in ODIs and 28th in all forms of the game for his adopted country, carried his side to within two runs of victory before Tim Bresnan clubbed the winning hit with four balls remaining.
Pietersen’s ton followed on from a similarly impressive effort on Saturday when he reached three figures in the 50 over format for the first time in two years, a drought he last night attributed to burnout.
“Test cricket has obviously been at the forefront of my thought patterns and I love that format of the game,” he said. “One-day cricket is something that you end a tour with and I’ve obviously got a young child and that’s always going to be my main priority.
“When you’re on tour and you finish the Test matches and you’ve got up to a month of one-day cricket, it does become a bit of a hindrance. Maybe somewhere at the back of my head it’s something that I’ve not given too much thought to.
“But I’ve found myself out here challenging myself big time on working hard at sorting the spin situation out and tonight proved that I’m on my way there. I’m not the finished article and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pick Saeed Ajmal.
“I think I’ve got a good technique against him when I’m looking to defend but as soon as I look to attack it’s a complete lottery.”
His blind spot against Ajmal aside, Pietersen’s upturn in fortune mirrored that of his side who had sunk to a 5-0 defeat in India last October in their previous one-day series.
Cook, who won the man of the series award on the back of two centuries in the opening two games, will now stay on for the upcoming Twenty20 matches and was bursting with pride at having masterminded and played such a significant part in a crushing win which lifts England up to fourth from sixth in the international rankings.
He said: “It’s been a great week-and-a-half for us and we’ve played some great cricket. Pakistan had won 14 of their last 15 matches over here. We had a challenge and every player in this team has stood up to that and we can all be very proud.”
Pakistan 237 all out | ENGLAND 241-6
1.2 Overs: Dernbach makes an immediate breakthrough inducing a thin edge from Hafeez
22.5 Overs: A century stand between Shafiq and Azhar is ended by Bresnan who clean bowls the former
29.6 Overs: Umar Akmal lofts a simple catch to Dernbach at long-off and becomes Briggs’s first international scalp
33.1 Overs: Azhar is caught by a diving Morgan at point off the bowling of Dernbach and exits for 58 with his side 144-4
43.3 Overs: Malik attempts to sweep Briggs but misses leaving the umpire to make a straightforward LBW decision
47.1 Overs: After Afridi’s dismissal Adnan Akmal tries to pinch a quick single, changes his mind and is run out by a mile
48.3 Overs: Pakistan’s hopes of reaching 250 look remote when Rehman is caught by Trott off the bowling of Finn
49.4 Overs: Misbah’s patient knock of 46 ends when he tries to slog Dernbach out of the ground but reaches only Trott standing deep on the leg-side boundary
50 Overs: Ajmal loses his middle pole as Dernbach ends with four wickets. England must chase 238 to complete a 4-0 whitewash
0.2 Overs: England’s response starts with the immediate loss of Cook who is given out LBW on review
16.1 Overs: With Trott and Morgan both back in the hutch Buttler serves up a nightmare debut when he’s out second ball to Ajmal without scoring. England struggling at 68-4
39.5 Overs: Kieswetter and KP put on a century stand before the former is run out trying to steal a single
48.6 Overs: Having struck a second consecutive century KP departs with England requiring just two more runs for victory. New batsman Bresnan duly obliges with a four down to third man