First Twenty20 international, Dubai:
LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)
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Simply put, that was stunning from Eoin Morgan. Building on one of the finest England performances in the field I've seen for a while, the little Middlesex superstar produced a clinically-paced exhibition of Twenty20 batting to take the game away from the world champions beautifully. If England can get their house in order at the top of the innings, this is actually threatening to look like a real decent unit. Expect, therefore, some form of kick-in-the-backside defeat on Saturday afternoon with Shahid Afridi inevitably at the fore on his return - Pranav Soneji will talk you through that. Nice one.
ITFCricketRule on 606:
"Brilliant performance from KP and Morgan - and actually the whole team apart from the wobble at the start of our innings."
19th over - ENGLAND WIN BY SEVEN WICKETS
Umar Gul returns to the attack with Pakistan desperate for wickets and dot balls - and Eoin Morgan greets him with a slap on the cut away for four. That brings up the 100 partnership. Morgan then takes a step and fences him backward of square for another brutal four before finishing things off in the most emphatic fashion possible - an absolutely brutal hit on the pull way over the rope. Four-four-six to finish things off and England win with nine balls to spare, Eoin Morgan scoring 67 and Kevin Pietersen 43.
18th over - Eng 116-3
Excellent stuff from Saeed Ajmal and he concedes just three off singles off that over. England need 14 off two overs.
Ken N via the TMS inbox:
"Suggestion for the techies: If the WA9000 is still beta release, here's the key feature it is missing. It needs to look like a highly technical spreadsheet from all angles unless you are sat directly in front of the screen."
17th over - Eng 113-3
Easy as you like for England until Eoin Morgan fails to realise a second run is on after a misfield and he has to bring out a full-length dive to survive the run-out. TV replays show he made it by approximately 0.67 inches. Ish. That two brings up the Irishman's 50 and he, KP, and the whole of the England dressing room have a right good laugh. Bless 'em.
From Jack on 606:
"These two have taken Pakistan apart in the last three overs. Great batting from England. These two came to the crease with England in BIG trouble and have shown what they are made of. Nice to see KP doing what he does best again, getting England out of big trouble. And Morgan is looking world class."
16th over - Eng 109-3
Hold on - I haven't pulled this out of the bag yet today, have I - KABOOM! Eoin Morgan, seeing the cherry like a beach ball, swots Umar Gul away over midwicket with complete impudence and then kerplunks the bowler back over his head beautifully for another boundary two deliveries later. This boy is seriously, seriously good. A misfield adds two more to Morgan's score and England need 21 from 24. By the way, some of you really need to get over this "commentator's curse" thing. It. Is. Not. Real. Thank you.
15th over - Eng 98-3
Saeed Ajmal to bowl his third over, but England need not take any risks now and they milk the ones and twos with ease to edge ever nearer that victory target. This partnership now up to 80.
14th over - Eng 92-3
Abdul Razzaq back into the attack, and Eoin Morgan welcomes him with a dab off his legs for four before hooking him on the semi-sweep powerfully behind square for another. He saves the best until last with an excellent pull shot off one that is just a touch short and he takes his strike rate above 100 - hugely impressive, this young Irishman, who is timing his innings to perfection.
13th over - Eng 78-3
Dare I say, this is starting to look comfortable for England now with the singles readily available and KP and Morgan starting to find the boundary shots regularly. One fine stroke from KP sees him clip nonchalantly away for four in front of square on the on side and, if he'd had a shave this morning instead of sporting the slept-on-a-park-bench look, he might well have framed that final pose and hung it on his wall.
12th over - Eng 68-3
A rare stray in line from the ever impressive Umar Gul and Eoin Morgan, having taken a step down the wicket, smirks as it flicks off his pad fine and away for four leg-byes. He and KP then tick over the singles with smart, textbook cricket shots before Morgan latches on to a short one to cart it over the fine leg rope for England's first maximum of the innings - big over.
11th over - Eng 55-3
Saeed Ajmal puts in an appeal more enthusiastic than an eight-year-old in a sweet shop as he raps Eoin Morgan's pads with one that straightens a touch - but it's struck the Irishman outside the line and was missing off anyway. Five more off the over. Run-rate creeping up to nine an over.
10th over - Eng 50-3
Umar Gul - Pakistan's main wicket-taking option - comes into the attack, suggesting Shoaib Malik doesn't like the look of this partnership one little bit. And Eoin Morgan, not so much throwing off the shackles as shuffling an arm and a leg free at least, gets a bit of luck as a top edged pull drops over the fielder's head at mid-on and safe. Just three from an excellent probing over. England need 80 from 60 deliveries.
Nigel S via the TMS inbox:
"Right now I'm not sure what's less painful, working or the Work Avoider 8000. Certainly glad I haven't paid good money like Paul for the Work Avoider 9000."
9th over - Eng 47-3
Another over of spin, this time from Saeed Ajmal, and another over of singles. England ticking over until a late-over dash by the look of things.
8th over - Eng 43-3
Reassuring stuff, this, for England fans, with KP regularly finding the middle of the bat and Eoin Morgan looking ever so composed. Ye olde nudges and nurdles fully on show for those of you seeking a throw-back cricketing limited-overs approach, but exactly what England need.
7th over - Eng 39-3
Three wides, ones and twos, and a cracking sweep from KP for four make that a profitable over for England, Shoaib Malik not quite getting his radar right just yet.
6th over - Eng 25-3
Ones and twos is the way forward now and KP and Eoin Morgan have, understandably, decided discretion is the better part of valour. Now settle down folks, England are on the exact same score as Pakistan were at this stage, admittedly having lost one wicket more. This looks like it could be a tight one...
5th over - Eng 21-3
Fear not, England fans, for saviour Eoin Morgan is at the crease. He
spoke with my colleague Harry Reekie only the other day,
you know, and by all accounts wants to tonk the absolute skin off the little white thing in Dubai. Which is nice. He and KP move England on past the 20 mark. Heady days indeed.
5th over - WICKET! Collingwood run out 0, Eng 18-3
Bom bom bom... another one bites the dust... and this time its a big, big wicket for Pakistan, the England captain looking to dash through for what originally looks a comfortable two, only for Umar Akmal to whip off the bails from Imran Farhat's throw from deep at the bowler's end.
4th over - Eng 15-2
England need these two to stick around for a bit now, and Kevin Pietersen shows his class with a beautiful loft down the ground for four off a Yasir Arafat slower ball to get the scoring back up and running. Paul Collingwood, on the other hand, is about as ready to show his flamboyant side as a Geoff Boycott clone and the England skipper pulls a couple of defensive strokes out of the textbook to see out the over.
3rd over - WICKET! Trott b Razzaq 4, Eng 10-2
Erm... Abdul Razzaq makes it both openers back in the dressing room as he induces the false stroke from Jonathan Trott, the South Africa-born star inside-edging an attempted dab back onto his own stumps and Pakistan are cock-a-hoop.
2nd over - WICKET! Denly c Farhat b Arafat 1, Eng 7-1
The calls for Craig Kieswetter will only get louder now... Joe Denly, a ball after surviving an Imran Farhat direct hit from short midwicket with a dive, chips lamely to the same fielder off Yasir Arafat and departs for a single. The early breakthrough Pakistan wanted.
1st over - Eng 3-0
Abdul Razzaq bowls the opening over and after Jonathan Trott clips a couple off his legs the Pakistan paceman offers a half-hearted appeal for lbw with the England opener in front. It was going over the top. Pakistan's total, by the way, was their second lowest in Twenty20 internationals.
Now then, a little later than expected, the players are out and ready to get going. Apparently,
despite his ban,
Shahid Afridi gave the on-pitch team-talk to Pakistan just now which, if I were Shoaib Malik, would put my nose right out of joint. Anyway, here we go...
Daniel, Manchester via the TMS inbox:
"Re Pulpgrape: Why would three England players need to get 30s or 40s when Pakistan managed 129 with only one player getting to 30?? Or have I missed England being set a revised total?"
Where do we stand then? Below-par from Pakistan, excellent from England in the field... and yet this one is far from over. Pakistan defend Twenty20 totals better than anyone and England - well - England are England. Two or three of Colly's boys at least will need to get involved here, possibly starting with Jonathan Trott and Joe Denly. Denly could certainly do with a knock with
Craig Kieswetter breathing down his neck
just three days after his naturalisation.
PulpGrape on 606:
"I'm sorry but I just cant see three or more England batsmen getting into the 30s or 40s. Pakistan have probably done just enough."
20th over - Pak 129-9
Ryan Sidebottom takes the final over but a Yasir Arafat punch down the ground aside, Pakistan can barely get him off the square until a flick away for four from the same player last ball. That really is an excellent display in the field from England and Pakistan are well off the pace with that total. England need 130 to win. Can I hear some chicken-counting going on out there?
19th over - WICKET! Razzaq c Broad b Bresnan 22, Pak 119-8
I tell you what, Stuart Broad is having a stormer - that is a brilliant catch running forward as Razzaq tries to guide a slower-ball bouncer down to third man. That's his third catch to add to his two wickets and counter-puncher Razzaq is back in the hutch.
19th over - WICKET! Sarfraz c Broad b Bresnan 5, Pak 115-7
A delicious one-bounce four on the sweep kicks off the over but Sarfraz Ahmed lasts only two more deliveries, Tim Bresnan forcing the false stroke and Stuart Broad taking a comfortable catch down at third man.
18th over - WICKET! Alam c Prior b Broad 23, Pak 106-6
Intelligent bowling from Stuart Broad, the dashing blond banging in the short ones, and Fawad Alam nicks limply behind to fall for 23. Pakistan not so much storming home here, as stumbling through the doorway a little punch drunk. Still, Abdul Razzaq powers a four away square off the last delivery and he can still brutalise a few more with two overs remaining.
17th over - Pak 104-5
Ryan Sidebottom back into the attack and Eoin Morgan almost takes a quite stunning catch running in from the midwicket boundary - he can't quite hold onto Abdul Razzaq's pull on the dive, though, and it's another life for the big-hitter. Singles the order of the day, and England remain in control.
Mbreeda via the TMS inbox:
"I think Gus is onto something here, however wouldn't The England Field Mice be more appropriate?"
Andy via the TMS inbox:
"RE: Gus, 15th over. Saw quite a few at Chester zoo the other day. Suspect additional lions at other zoos in England."
16th over - Pak 99-5
That wicket brings dangerman Abdul Razzaq to the crease - but he misses chopping onto his own stumps via an inside edge off Stuart Broad third ball by a matter of a mouse's eyelash. He is undeterred, though, and he flails a short one away flat for six, before bisecting the fielders with a mis-cued top edge for a couple more. Broad looks like he's just bitten deep into a lemon.
Cricket South Africa announces that South Africa will host this year's Twenty20 Champions League between 10-26 September, even though it was expected to be held in India. The ECB won't be happy as the dates clash with
England's one-day series against Pakistan
as well as two rounds of County Championship fixtures.
The counties were still holding out hope that the dates could be moved
- but they look set in stone now. Will English teams not be able to take part? Or will qualifying teams send their first XIs to South Africa and field reserve teams in the Championship? Watch this space.
Gus via the TMS inbox:
"Why are they called the England Lions anyway - I've never seen a lion in England and yet they adorn the garments of cricketers and footballers? How about a native animal, like a Badger?"
15th over - WICKET! Shoaib c Collingwood b Swann 33, Pak 86-5
Oh deary me, that's positively England-esque, Shoaib Malik manoeuvring his side into a half-decent position and then throwing his wicket away, chipping lazily to Paul Collingwood at midwicket to gift Graeme Swann his second wicket.
14th over - 85-4
Lucky escape for Shoaib Malik as he mis-cues an attempted pull only for it to fall between Jonathan Trott and Joe Denly and safe - two runs added. No such concerns off the final two deliveries, though, Shoaib punching beautifully straight down the ground before taking a step across his stumps and clipping flamboyantly away for a couple of fours.
Nathan Petty, Caerphilly via text:
"This is too easy. Imagine what the English Lions would do to this lot."
13th over - Pak 73-4
Colly to bowl down his wobbles now - and Fawad Alam breaks free of the shackles with a Rolex-timed clip high over deep backward square leg and away for six. This partnership now 34 off 26 balls and just what Pakistan needed.
12th over - Pak 64-4
This is a cracking fielding performance from England so far, it really is, Paul Collingwood the latest to dive full stretch to stop what looked a certain boundary and almost run Shoaib Malik out. Shoaib and Fawad Alam rotating the strike more fluently now, though, and we have a rare period of calm.
11th over - Pak 58-4
Before England fans get too carried away (not that I'd accuse any of you of doing that) Shoaib Malik reminds everyone Pakistan still have plenty in their locker with good use of the feet and a chip over midwicket for four. The ones and twos follow and before you know it that's 10 off Graeme Swann's second over.
10th over - Pak 48-4
Shoaib Malik pulls in front of square for a three but boundaries still proving more elusive than Count Dracula at lunchtime and that's the halfway stage. A couple of the fellas in here discussing England players' shirt/squad numbers (Luke Wright has changed his to six apparently) past and present . Seriously. This office is so rock and roll.
9th over - WICKET! Akmal c Broad b Swann 13, Pak 39-4
Graeme Swann will turn his arm over now, and he always ALWAYS takes a wicket in his first over. And he's done it again! I thought I'd well and truly cursed him there, but nope! Not too bad a shot from Umar Akmal, a back-cut swish, but Stuart Broad plucks a doozy of a pouch out of the air at backward point and England are simply fizzing in the field.
Banter's Little Helper on 606:
"My main issue with Luke Wright, which is not his fault at all is that I think he looks like a smaller version of Shane Watson who can't bat or bowl quite as well as his big brother."
8th over - Pak 38-3
A lot on the shoulders of Umar Akmal here, but at the moment he looks about as comfortable as barbed-wire jeans. Tim Bresnan, back into the attack, bangs one in short and Umar is lucky to see his high top edge drop over the keeper's head. He looks a little better swiping to midwicket next ball, though, and then, off the last delivery, he squeezes one fine down to third man for a boundary.
7th over - Pak 28-3
Another run-out appeal as Paul Collingwood throws down the stumps but Umar Akmal is home. Fine first over from Luke "I should be in a boyband" Wright.
Stephen via the TMS inbox:
"It wouldn't be a proper England cricket game if there wasn't a promising start, followed by a period of uncertainty, progressing into a collapse. All the while interspersed with apologies for the malfunctioning updates."
7th over - WICKET! Latif c Prior b Wright 4, Pak 26-3
Well well well - Luke Wright into the attack, a front-foot no-ball and dot ball to kick things off, and then Khalid Latif falls attempting a wild hoik, succeeding only in edging a comfortable one through to Matt Prior. England flying.
Geoff via the TMS inbox:
"Re: Mr Crowe - I live in Tooting Bec. Where can I get tickets for Roger v Andy?"
6th over - Pak 25-2
Excellent start, this, by England as Broad keeps Khalid Latif and new batsman Umar Akmal to ones and twos, just five off the over. By the way - it would appear our ball-by-ball is up the creek, muchos apologias for that. The techno wizards are frenzied with action as we speak, but it'll have to be me and the
5th over - WICKET! Farhat run out 14, Pak 20-2
Change of ends for Tim Bresnan and Khalid Latif gets going with a pull through the vacant midwicket region for three. This pitch looks slower than a milk float with a flat tyre... but there's no stopping that, as Imran Farhat flicks one off his hips fine for four. And that's four more, Farhat flicking over fine leg for a two-bounce boundary... but he's gone now! Kevin Pietersen with the pick-up-and-throw at mid-off and Farhat is well short of his ground going for a suicidal single.
4th over - WICKET! Nazir c Denly b Broad 2, Pak 9-1
Tim Bresnan's one-run over earns him a rest... and what a move that proves, with Stuart Broad striking fourth ball! Imran Nazir, clearly frustrated, cannot get on top of a pull and it top edges high into the sky straight to Joe Denly at square leg.
From Pete "Billy" Crowe via the TMS inbox:
"Samuel Patrick - you're a learned man (with a degree from one of the three great Universities...), answer me this: what is the point of this cricket match? 20:20 against Pakistan in Dubai? Where will it all end? And what are the other sporting equivalents? 5-a-side Brazil-France footy in Greenland? 3 hole play-off between randy Tiger and Boring Ernie in Uzbekistan? A Federer-Murray tie-break in Tooting Bec Lido (water optional)?"
3rd over - Pak 8-0
Imran Nazir still showing plenty of intent - but his eye is still somewhere down under by the look of things as he appears unable to find the middle of his bat with a map and a compass at present. A couple of singles from the over. The highest Twenty20 international score on this ground, by the way, is 161-8, while the average is in the 140s.
From Paul in Dubai via the TMS inbox:
"I'm already using the WA9000, I'm sat here watching it live in the stadium and doing no work whatsoever."
2nd over - Pak 6-0
Tim Bresnan to share the new white ball and he, too, is getting a touch of early movement. Not a huge amount of pace off the pitch so far, which will please Pakistan not. Imran Nazir swings and misses off a couple and has just a single off the final ball to show for his efforts.
1st over - Pak 5-0
Some early signs of swing for Sidebottom in the Dubai early evening and after a leg bye brings Imran Farhat onto strike, the right hander is beaten outside the edge before an airy stroke is clipped just wide of second slip for four. Decent start for Siddy.
And here we go - Ryan Sidebottom to take the new ball, Imran Farhat and Imran Nazir opening up for Pakistan.
The players stride out into the 25,000-seater stadium and plenty of Pakistan supporters are already in situ. England's first task - keep Pakistan to a reasonable total, which will be far easier said than done against this batting line-up, on this pitch, with a bowling attack shorn of James Anderson. I'm going for a score of 180+ for Pakistan.
Here, then, are the teams in full.Pakistan:
Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, Khalid Latif, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik (capt), Fawad Alam, Abdul Razzaq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wkt), Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat, Saeed Ajmal.England:
JL Denly, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood (capt), EJG Morgan, MJ Prior (wkt), LJ Wright, SCJ Broad, TT Bresnan, GP Swann, RJ Sidebottom.Umpires:
EAR de Silva and HDPK Dharmasena
From Andy in Suffolk via the TMS inbox:
"I believe that the Work Avoider 8000 is just a stop-gap, until the WA9000 comes out, at the end of the summer? It's supposed to be ready for the next Ashes series, where it will swing into action at eight in the morning, to phone your boss to tell him that you've not slept all night because of 'illness'."
If England are to upset the odds - and Pakistan remain big favourites for this match despite
their mauling in Australia
- a lot will surely fall on Kevin Pietersen. When doesn't it I suppose? He's lost form quicker than a Mr Universe contestant who stops hitting the gym and dines solely on fried mars bars, but who's to bet against him coming good here? Whatever happens,
former coach Duncan Fletcher will be checking his form on the TV
apparently. Not sure what that says about England's current batting coaches, but...
From Ben H in Notts via the TMS inbox:
"This update to the Work Avoider Series - has it resolved the issues of the 7500 Series Machine, which was prone to long periods of inevitable disappointment interlaced with brief spells of futile hope?! I see they haven't fixed the win-the-toss.exe glitches."
From Rob H via the TMS inbox:
"How long will it take until we hear the first cry of Pieterson coming in to save the day then jump all over him when he gets out playing an attacking shot? Will we today unveil a new hero or villain?! Let the panto commence!!"
"It's twilight at the moment so hopefully we do get a little bit of swing," says Paul Collingwood.
"The boys are looking good at the moment, I know we lost off the last ball to the Lions, but we have a batting line-up that has some really good power."
So, Pakistan win the toss and Shoaib Malik - captain in place of Shahid Afridi, who
took it upon himself to munch upon a cricket ball in Perth
- instantly opts to bat on what looks a peach of a pitch. England are, as expected, unchanged from the side that lost to the Lions on Wednesday. Pakistan, by the way, have won 11 and only lost twice when batting first in Twenty20 internationals... gulp.
1332: PAKISTAN WIN TOSS AND WILL BAT FIRST From Paul W via the TMS inbox:
"Sam, any chance the "Work Avoider 8000" will be available for constant use between 8 am and 4 pm every week day not just when England potentially get hammered at cricket?"
No official team news just yet, but there is not expected to be any place for Somerset's Craig Kieswetter, despite the fact he
tonked England to all parts for the Lions
just a couple of days ago. I imagine the selectors are of the opinion the fact he hits it rather a long way will only serve to embarrass the other lads. Still, that'll mean Joe Denly and Jonathan Trott will open up - England's 15th different opening partnership in 23 Twenty20 internationals. Who needs consistency of selection anyway?
From ScottStevo on 606:
"This will be a tough game for the English today, make no mistake. The Pakistan team, although recently heavily beaten in Austrlalia, are reigning T20 world champions and will be fighting for a long awaited win."
Yep, England face
world champions Pakistan
today in the first of two internationals in Dubai - the only Twenty20 games currently scheduled for our boys before the summer's World Twenty20. Which kind of makes these matches rather important. It's a good job England have a settled side, gameplan and approach to this form of the game isn't it? Ahem. Anyway, get involved via email,
or even them there
and we can all delight in England's stunning win/inevitable demise (delete as applicable) together. Nice.
Friday afternoon in the office? Counting down the hours? Scratching around for something to help you "look busy"? I bring you the "Work Avoider 8000" - also known as the England v Pakistan Twenty20 International
- free of charge. Sit back and enjoy, folks.