Kevin Pietersen proved to be England’s saviour as he smashed a highly entertaining knock of 62 runs from 52 deliveries in the final Twenty20 International at Abu Dhabi.
The victory gave England a much needed 2-1 series win and a huge morale boost after their shocking loss in the test series, which has left them on the verge of losing their world number one ranking.
Stuart Broad, England’s Captain for the Twenty20 International series, was pleased with the series victory, but stated that it failed to mend the wounds of the test series whitewash. “This doesn’t make up for the Test series, we came over here wanting to prove ourselves on the subcontinent and we have another chance to do that in Sri Lanka now. But a lot of guys who stayed on here have showed great character to achieve a 4-0 one-day whitewash and win this series here” he said.
England, upon winning the toss, decided to bat first, even though the pitch was not known for its high totals. Pietersen, who opened the batting, had the painful task of witnessing batsman after batsman getting dismissed with some accurate Pakistan bowling.
However, soon things got to the point where he had to carry the team on his shoulders and went on the attack, displaying a barrage of quality strikes, and even ended England’s inning with a massive six, that saw them to a total of 129, with Pietersen unbeaten on 62.
Pietersen, who was given the Man of the Match award for his crucial game changing inning, said: “It was a difficult wicket, I found it quite hard to score really quickly, and they were quite big boundaries as well.”
Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal was the most damaging bowler to England, as he snapped up four wickets in quick succession, which limited them to the score of 129.
Pakistan were very cautious in reply to their target of 130, due to accurate bowling and regular strikes by the English bowlers. Asad Shafiq, top scored for Pakistan with 34 runs, however, Awais Zia, Captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal, all posted decent scores as well.
Towards the end of the match, things got extremely tight, with Pakistan needing only 13 runs to win off the last over.
England’s Jade Dernbach kept his nerve and bowled an outstanding final over, in which he varied his pace and length to keep the Pakistan batsmen guessing. Tragedy struck for Pakistan when big-hitter Shahid Afridi was run out.
With the tension building, Pakistan needed six runs off the last delivery to win the match, with Captain ul-Haq on strike, but, the fairy tale ending to the tour was not to be for the Pakistan Captain as he was comprehensively bowled going for a slog.
Thus began the celebrations for England, which Dernbach led with a football slide, as they ended their tour against Pakistan on a high.
Dernbach was the leading wicket taker in the match for England, with two, however, he was well supported by Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, who both picked up a wicket each.
Captain Broad, had nothing but praise for Dernbach, and said: “Jade was fantastic with his final two overs, very high-pressure overs to bowl – and he showed his Twenty20 class there.”
He also said: “It was a tense game, KP showed his experience, to know it wasn’t going to be a 150-160 wicket. Once we got up to 130, I always thought that was going to be competitive.”
Pakistan Captain, Misbah ul-Haq, was visibly upset with the loss and thought the team should have played better in order to win. “What can I say, it is really disappointing not to have won this match. It was a gettable target and we needed 23 off the last three but we failed, we are responsible for this defeat” he said.
With the end of the tour, which has seen Kevin Pietersen back in form, England will now go to Sri Lanka and look to continue their dominant form. Meanwhile, Pakistan have a break in their busy cricket schedule, as they look to regroup and recharge.