England go 3-1 down

England went 3-1 down in the ODI series today after their wobbly batting lineup collapsed again thanks to some superb Pakistani fast and spin bowling throughout the English innings.

Pakistan posted what looked like a below par score of 210 all out, and although England were 114-8 at one stage, Kabir Ali, Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson all fought hard to the end. England were 13 runs short of Pakistan’s total with just 11 balls to go when Anderson nicked a rising Shoaib Ahktar delivery to slip after having battled through 37 minutes with Kabir Ali, who was left stranded on 39.

Inzamam Ul Haq again was the linchpin of Pakistan’s batting, scoring 81 unbeaten runs which ensured that his bowlers had something to bowl at. He was assisted by a dazzling cameo of 34 from Shahid Afridi, whose return from a ban had lifted the spirits of the Pakistani side. Afridi also took 3 vital wickets in the English innings for a miserly 34 runs, another critical performance from the young man.

Inzamam’s flamboyant innings proved why he is still one of the best batsmen around today. He stroked boundaries through all the regions effortlessly on what seemed to be one of the most difficult batting tracks seen so far in the series.

Flintoff and Anderson both bowled superbly early on in the Pakistani innings and piled early pressure on the home side. This caused Salman Butt to be run out by Vikram Solanki who threw wonderfully whilst kneeling down at cover, which punished Butt’s lazy backing up.

Then Flintoff bowled Younis Kahn off an inside edge for a duck, and Anderson followed that up by knocking Kamran Akmal over with an off cutter that went through the gate, ending Akmal’s innings on the same score. Pakistan had gone from 34-0 to 34-3 in no time, and England looked to be on top.

Plunkett cleaned up the explosive Afridi with a deceptively slow off cutter that took out his middle pole, and then dismissed Abdul Razzaq the next ball with a perfect Yorker.

Kabir Ali picked up the wickets of Mohammad Yousuf and Rana Naved-Ul-Hasan for 11 and 17 respectively, and Flintoff and Anderson cleaned up the remaining batsmen for ducks, thus ending the Pakistani innings on 210.

Naved-Ul-Hasan ensured England were under pressure early on, and he dismissed both Prior and Strauss with devilish swinging deliveries with England on 13.

Solanki managed just 6 runs before he edged Shoaib Ahktar back onto his own stumps, and 44 runs later Trescothick was bowled by Arshad Khan. He played for turn, but the ball just skidded straight on and clipped his off stump, leaving England on 70 for four.

Collingwood was dismissed by Sami having put on just 7, pushing a drive to point, and then Flintoff, who had his fair share of luck, went LBW to Afridi for 40, and in the process became the first of three Afridi victims. Geraint Jones became the second when he cut to gully, and his final one came courtesy of a flipper which flummoxed Liam Plunkett for 7.

When Blackwell was run out for 29, it looked like the end for England, but Anderson survived through a mixture of luck and determination for half an hour, and brought his country so painstakingly close to leveling the series with Ali when he edged to slip and was caught well by Mohammad Yousuf.

The next ODI is a chance for England to salvage some pride in this woeful series in which they have only won two games, one of which was a friendly against the Patron’s XIV. And with England slipping out of the top six in the ODI rankings, victory is essential if they are to get automatic qualification for the ICC Champions Trophy.

Pakistan – 210
Inzamam Ul Haq 81*

England – 197
Flintoff 40, Afridi 3-34

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Inzamam Ul Haq

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