Eoin Morgan slapped, swished, smacked and
spanked the white cherry around like Shahid Afridi in his pomp, while the
ball-eating all-rounder sat stroking his stubble and wondering how a diminutive
Irishman was left to steal the show in Dubai.
Morgan adopted the 'Fetch that' approach
favoured by Afridi himself during his belligerent and uncompromising 67 as
England remained on course for a series whitewash against a Pakistan team,
minus its captain, chief selector and coach.
Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik (yes, it
changes every match) could barely veil his beaming smile as he elected to bat
first on a bone dry deck, but 20 overs later he was left to read a scorecard
which looked as if Bangladesh had been batting at the Sir Vivian Richards's
Stadium in Antigua. (129 was their second-lowest Twenty20 total ever.)
decided to take the proactive method of captaincy to its extreme as he hauled
off Tim 'pass the Pringles' Bresnan following a fine opening over at the
Emirates Road End, and reintroduced the all-rounder at the Dubai Sports City
End where he was promptly pummelled for 11 runs off three balls.
England kept their opponents firmly on the back foot as Imran Farhat adopted
the Inzamam-ul-Haq approach to running between the wickets and was caught extravagantly
short of his ground by a fired up and heavily-bearded Kevin Pietersen.
Broad then snaffled a stunning Hollywood catch to send Umar Akmal back to the
pavilion (well, pavilion in the loosest possible sense in the futuristic and
entirely metallic stadium) and England were romping along merrily.
England's reply with the bat was marked by
Graham Gooch's notepad: frantic scribbling and pensive looks from the outset,
slowly emerging into a beaming smile and a pen behind the ear as Morgan and Pietersen
racked up a record partnership of 112.
All the pressure had been on Joe Denly to
produce with Craig 'brace yourselves' Kieswetter waiting in the wings with
limitless confidence and a cover drive that says 'this is what television was
invented for', but the Kent batsman was left to kick the turf like a deranged
Peter Siddle after he was dismissed for one.
Collingwood ran himself out for a six-ball
duck as he looked to secure a second run for Pietersen, who was left to wonder
how far his skipper would go in the name of generosity, and the nurdler was
left to wonder whether the game had been lost in the time it took him to shout
'two for the arm'. Umar Akmal had the last laugh.
England's batsmen have often been
criticised for adopting the burglar's approach to batting of 'get in, get out',
but the shaky start simply served to set the stage for Morgan, who seized his
opportunity with relish, dishing out seven fours and two sixes.
Morgan almost emulated his skipper after
looking to reach his 50 with a suicidal second run, but a desperate dive and
some lethargic 'keeping from Sarfraz Ahmed ensured that he was able to raise
his bat sheepishly and acknowledge the landmark with a heavily-soiled shirt and
a wry grin.
Umar Gul has long been vaunted as a
masterful exponent of bowling at the death, but his performance in what he
contrived to ensure was the final over of the match left the scoreboard to read
'4-4-6' as Morgan batted as if facing Mark Ealham at Taunton.
Collingwood, who has a
perfectly inconsistent record as Twenty20 captain (winning eight and losing eight
from 16 completed matches in charge), always felt that Pakistan were
there for the taking, as he remarked prior to the match: "It may just be a
very good time to play Pakistan." And so it proved.
After nine defeats out of nine Down Under,
Pakistan were desperately in need of a timely fillip ahead of the World
Twenty20, but their subdued display only demonstrated that the repercussions
of their disastrous Australian tour are still very evident.
in Australia Kamran Akmal was dropped after dropping more catches than Phil
Tufnell holding a glass of rum and a cigarette in either hand, while chief
selector Iqbal Qasim's resignation was followed by coach Intikhab Alam being
summoned to provide accountability in a series enquiry. Then, of course, there
is the skipper, Shahid 'Boom, Boom, Bite' Afridi, who is serving a
two-match ban for confusing a lacquered Kookaburra with a shiny Braeburn.
The 27,000-seater, crisply named Dubai
International Cricket Stadium provided a dramatic, if emphatically over-sized
venue for this, the first of two hastily arranged matches intended to prepare
the sides for the World Twenty20, which gets underway in all its unbridled
glory at the end of April in the Caribbean.
Considering that the hallmarks of the last
major competition to be staged in the West Indies were of appalling scheduling,
sparse crowds and shambolic organisation and stewarding, better is hoped of the
shorter format's showpiece event, and of the beleaguered world champions.
SHOT OF THE DAY: After clubbing two
almighty fours through midwicket, Morgan decided that Gul's third delivery of
the penultimate over of the match simply had to go. The Middlesex batsman duly
shuffled back in his crease and bulldozed a good-length ball into the hands of a
heavily-sequinned, cowboy hat-wearing local, who had to stop dancing and
collect the ball.
STAT OF THE DAY: Pietersen and Morgan's
unbeaten fifth wicket stand of 112 was England's highest
for any wicket in Twenty20s.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Being born in a Stable does
not make you a Horse. Having an English parent makes you English - end of
story," was the view of David in regards to the possible selection of
Kieswetter, whose mother is Scottish and father South African.
- Shahid Afridi
- Eoin Morgan
- Umar Akmal