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England beats Pakistan in 2nd ODI
World’s No. 1 team takes unbeatable lead
By Abdul Nasir Khan
ABU DHABI – Recovering from a sweep by Pakistan in a recent three-match Test series, England’s cricket team won its second straight One-Day International (ODI) match against Pakistan February 15.
The victory gives England an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the four-match series unfolding in the UAE. English skipper Alastair Cook, all-rounder Ravi Bopara and fast bowler Steven Finn nearly replicated their performances from the first ODI match, leading England to a 20-run victory.
Batting first, England scored 250/4 in its allotted 50 overs. Cook compiled another century, while Bopara (50) also amassed a respectable total.
“Steven Finn was outstanding,” Cook said afterward in praising England’s bowlers, according to the England and Wales Cricket Board. He was declared man of the match for the second straight time.
Pakistan started well, with Muhammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat combining for 61, but couldn’t stay on the pitch and surrendered wickets one after another.
Team captain Misbah-ul-Haq contributed 47, but his teammates couldn’t resist the English bowlers. Finn finished with 4-34, which he also did February 13, and played a pivotal role in securing the English win.
Cricket watchers had mixed reactions to Pakistan’s defeat and said they were not disappointed with the players.
Senior sports journalist Sohail Imran criticised team management for its selection and batting order.
“I think Shaoib Malik, Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi should announce their retirements from ODI because their performances are not up to the mark,” Sohail told Central Asia Online.
“Afridi’s attitude shows that he has no interest in the game, while Younis should concentrate on Test cricket,” Sohail opined. “Pakistan was in commanding position at 179-4, but after that, our batsmen were giving away their wickets in a hurry.”
Sohail also criticised the batting order, calling the placement of Abdur Rehman before Umar Gul a big mistake.
“Test and One-Day are different formats of game, and team management should have made some changes to the side after it swept the Test series against England,” Sohail said.
Former Test cricketer Abdul Qadir disagreed.
“Pakistan will level the four-match series (by winning) the next two matches being played at Dubai,” Qadir told Central Asia Online.
England and Pakistan clash again February 18 and 21 – but in Dubai, not Abu Dhabi, which was the site of the two English victories.
The two venues have different effects on new balls, Qadir said, implying the change of scenery could affect the outcome of the next two matches.
“In ODI, the ball does not get old, as one ball is used for only 25 over, and Pakistani bowlers have more experience in swinging and spinning an older ball. England’s (ODI) team is not different from its Test team,” he said. “Its batting is the same, but skipper Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara have performed (with support from) pacer Steven Finn in both matches.”
Pakistan’s top order has to focus on its strengths and has to stay on the wicket, Qadir said.