Colombo: After the high of overhauling a target of 183 against India two days ago, Pakistan came crashing down with a feeble batting effort while attempting to chasing a meager 112 against England at the P Sara Oval on Wednesday. With a 15-run win, England made it two wins out of two in the lead-up to their ICC World Twenty20 opener against Afghanistan on September 21.
A tigerish effort in the field from Pakistan, led yet again by Saeed Ajmal, had sent England packing for 111 in 19.3 overs, with a dramatic collapse of five wickets for two runs in eight deliveries. However, a familiar tale of jittery batting in the face of controlled bowling from England captain Stuart Broad and the slow left-armer Danny Briggs saw Pakistan surrender meekly.
Having opted to bat, England’s innings started and ended on a poor note. Their openers Craig Keiswetter and Alex Hales were sent back early in a bustling opening spell from Raza Hasan (2 for 16) before Ajmal struck in his first over with the wicket of Eoin Morgan, stumped for 10. England struggled for momentum, even playing out 53 boundaries-less deliveries at one stage.
Defending 111, England beat Pakistan by 15 runs thanks to a superb bowling effort.
Only Luke Wright, with 38 off 36 balls, was able to get a decent score but even his efforts were cut off before he could do any damage. Wright fell off the first ball of the 15th over, three balls after Yasir Arafat had bowled Jonny Bairstow for 14. Two boundaries off Arafat in the 18th over took England to 105 for 5 but what transpired in the next six balls extinguished all hopes of a late onslaught.
With his second, third and fifth deliveries, Ajmal extracted Jos Buttler, Broad and Steven Finn to finish with 4 for 14. Arafat finished off the innings with the wickets of Briggs and Samit Patel in successive deliveries.
England were perked up in the field as Briggs sent back Mohammad Hafeez for 0 in a wicket-maiden first over, and in his third had Imran Nazir stumped for a run-a-ball 14. Pakistan’s scoring remained healthy as they took 41 off the Powerplay block, but a wicket first ball for Patel pegged them back.
This set in motion a pattern of wickets falling before Pakistan’s batsmen could forge partnerships. Asad Shafiq reached 20 before being dismissed in the 12th over by Broad and in the next Briggs got the big wicket of Umar Akmal to finish with excellent figures of 4-1-15-3. Akmal’s failure to fire slowed Pakistan down as the pressure set in, and his innings of 10 off 22 balls allowed England to gain ground. Broad next took out the dangerous Shahid Afridi for 4 in a wicket-maiden 15th over, leaving Pakistan to get 38 from 30 balls.
The panic continued with Shoaib Malik’s dismissal to Jade Dernbach four balls into the 18th over. Abdul Razzaq hit the first ball of Broad’s final over for four, but Pakistan managed just two singles off the next five as the England captain signed off with a fine effort (4-1-12-2). Needing 20 from the last over proved too much for Razzaq and Kamran Akmal, the hero of the win over India who oddly was held back until No. 9. Dernbach dismissed the pair in successive deliveries to finish with 3 for 14.
Brief score: England 111 in 19.3 overs (Luke Wright 38; Saeed Ajmal 4/14) beat Pakistan 96 for 9 in 20 overs (Asad Shafiq 20; Danny Briggs 3/15, Jade Dernbach 3/14, Stuart Broad 2/12) by 15 runs.