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27 February, 2012

England win by 5 runs

England win by 5 runs

Saeed Ajmal has been a central figure throughout this tour and he produced another telling display to restrict England to 129 for 6 in the deciding Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi. Ajmal's 4 for 23 ensured the visitors couldn't build momentum on a slow surface that made stroke play difficult, but Kevin Pietersen produced a measured, unbeaten 62 to give England a defendable target.
It became apparent early on that this wasn't a pitch where 150 would be a par score. An early delivery from Aizaz Cheema scooted low past the stumps and the harder England's batsmen swung the less cleanly they struck the ball. Pietersen assessed conditions and judged it was better to stay until the end than aim too high; he completed a 47-ball fifty in the penultimate over. Samit Patel provided important late blows with a 10-ball 16, six of which came from a straight drive off Ajmal. The offspinner hit back by having Patel stumped before Pietersen finished the innings in style with a huge six off Cheema.
Craig Kieswetter had threatened to give England the early momentum when he attacked Umar Gul's opening over, hitting a powerful straight six, but he was superbly caught at long-on off Ajmal's third ball. A second good catch, this time from Umar Akmal behind the stumps, ended Ravi Bopara's brief stay. It was reward for an excellent three-over burst by Cheema, which cost 14 runs.
Eoin Morgan's last innings of the tour was a tortured affair, as many of the 16 before this one had also been. He chipped short of long-off against Shahid Afridi on 6 and should have been stumped on 8 off Mohammad Hafeez as Akmal added another error to a long list. This one, however, didn't prove costly although Morgan was left cursing a team-mate rather than himself. Pietersen drove firmly to cover, where Misbah-ul-Haq fumbled, and didn't adhere to the adage of 'don't run on a misfield,' leaving Morgan stuffed when he changed his mind again.
Jonny Bairstow couldn't repeat his showing from two days ago as he misjudged the length against Ajmal and England's other young middle-order batsman, Jos Buttler, had another tough innings. He scored four runs off the nine combined deliveries he faced from Ajmal and Afridi and was then given lbw against Ajmal playing a sweep that left him on his backside in the crease. This tour hasn't launched Buttler's international career as it appeared it could do.
Most of Pakistan's bowling was excellent but Gul, normally so consistent in this format, wasn't quite at his best. Trying to react to Pietersen's movement in the crease, Gul conceded five wides down the leg side. In his final over, Gul sprayed another wide outside off stump and Pietersen proceeded to hit the seventh ball to the midwicket boundary. Like Pietersen's last-ditch six, such small moments could yet be telling.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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