Pakistan level tainted ODI series with Lord’s victory

Fourth one-day international, Lord’s:
Pakistan 265-7 beat England 227 by 38 runs
Pakistan levelled the one-day series with England at 2-2 to set up a decider at the Rose Bowl on a day overshadowed by further off-field controversies.

Winning a hugely important toss they batted first at Lord’s, Abdul Razzaq hitting 40 runs of the 42 scored in the last two overs to get them up to 265-7. Andrew Strauss and Steven Davies put on 113 in the first 20 overs of the chase.

But batting under floodlights again proved tough and they finished 38 runs short, all out for 227 in 46.1 overs.

Once again England found Pakistan’s highly skilled bowlers a handful as night-time conditions predictably exaggerated the movement of the ball. Whereas it was Umar Gul who did the damage on his own in England’s dramatic collapse on Friday, this time he teamed up with his veteran pace colleague Shoaib Akhtar to take seven wickets with some late swing and pinpoint accuracy.

England were reluctant to take part in the contest at all, outraged as they were by the off-the-cuff remarks of Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt on Indian television on Sunday. Captain Andrew Strauss released a statement voicing “strong misgivings” about taking the field for either of the two final matches after Butt had aired the idea that Indian bookmakers had paid some England players to lose the game on Friday.

Butt retreated from his stance on Monday, insisting that it was the illegal bookies, not himself, making such claims – but tensions between the two sides bristled.  There was a tussle in the nets before play between Wahab Riaz, the Pakistan fast bowler who has already been interviewed by police in their spot-fixing inquiries into the Lord’s Test match, and England batsman Jonathan Trott.

Words were exchanged between the pair and, amid rumours of physical contact as well, the incident was brought to the attention of match referee Jeff Crowe. The verbal exchanges between players out in the middle were more spiky than in previous matches too after Shahid Afridi made it four wins from four tosses.

England, though they would have preferred to be batting first, found useful seam movement early on to beat the outside edges of Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez on many occasions. Both batsmen survived the onslaught, however, and put on 62 inside 14 overs for the first wicket. But Pakistan were unable to accelerate away in the middle overs, shackled as they were by the excellent Graeme Swann, who took 4-37 on the day he made the shortlist for the ICC cricketer of the year award. One of his victims was Hafeez, who got as far as the 32nd over before top-edging a simple catch to Trott at gully as he attempted to heave Swann across the line. His 64 had occupied 100 balls, putting the onus on the lower order to make Pakistan competitive.

Finally Shahid Afridi came in and hit his fourth ball for a six onto the middle balcony of the pavilion, where a member cut his forehead as he attempted a catch.

Afridi’s positive intent brought him 37 from 22 balls, but the innings stalled when he was removed by Stuart Broad (2-44). With two overs left England must have been very satisfied to have restricted their opponents 223-7. But, his task eased with the batting powerplay delayed until the last moment, Razzaq gave himself room to stroke a series of fine fours off James Anderson through the off-side and added a huge six over long on.

Having taken 20 runs off Anderson’s last five balls, he was put back on strike when Gul took a single off the last over, bowled by Tim Bresnan, and hit the Yorkshireman for five more fours. Though Anderson and Bresnan’s quest for yorkers failed as they served up low full tosses and length balls, Razzaq deserved plenty of credit, as 44 not out from 20 balls left England chasing a target at least 20 runs steeper than had ever looked likely.

Strauss has been in supreme form in this series, following scores of 41, 126 and 57 in the first three games with one of 68 here, while Davies made 49. Shoaib was hit out of the attack after being hammered for 30 in his first three overs, and it was only when the spinners came on that Pakistan began to exert any control

Davies, reluctant to play the sweep, dragged Saeed Ajmal onto his stumps. Strauss picked out the excellent Fawad Alam at backward point, and either side of his dismissal Jonathan Trott and Paul Collingwood produced eight scratchy runs between them off a combined 34 balls. England had gone from 113-0 to 149-4 and the required run rate, well below five an over after 10 overs, was quickly moving to six and then seven.

Pakistan’s three spinners could now apply the squeeze on a used surface becoming drier by the minute, while Afridi ensured reverse-swing specialist Gul was left with plenty of overs in hand. Ian Bell, drafted into the side after a match-winning century in the domestic 40-over final for Warwickshire on the same ground two days earlier, made 27 before picking out short extra cover off Ajmal. And that left England needing an improbable 84 from the last 10 overs. They got nowhere near as the last five wickets fell in six overs to Shoaib and Gul, including the last real hope for the home team Eoin Morgan (28). Remarkably, seven of England’s batsmen were bowled, Broad the last of them to give Gul 4-32, with Shoaib taking 3-59 – BBC