Cook made all the difference
Pakistan displayed improvement in their batting, but a diving catch from wicket keeper Craig Kieswetter, will long be remembered as one of the finest catches ever in the history of the game. It refreshed memories of the unforgettable catch that West Indian keeper Jeffery Dujon had take in Karachi to remove Asif Mujtaba. Kieswetter’s performance was superb, and much more spectacular than Dujon. The carribean keeper had leapt in the air to pluck it out in the air with one hand, while the England counterpart, had to run considerable distance and hold it just millimeters of the ground, turning himself from left to right, and diving full length. It was just marvelous example of agility and reflexes.
That catch turned the entire game. Till Misbah was at the crease, Pakistan was well on way to achieving the required 250 runs, which England had made while making first use of the wicket after winning the toss in the second ODI at Abu Dhabi. Once he was gone, the tail was exposed, and like in previous matches, including the Tests, it failed to wag. Spinner Rehman was beaten outside the off stump ball after ball, and finally fell. Not much could be expected from Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal or Aijaz Cheema. They failed to make any substantial contribution. Pakistan lost by 20 runs and England sealed the series with 2-0 in the 4-match contest.
Pakistan bowling was impressive but neither Umar Gull, nor Aijaz Cheema impressed with their bowling. The same Umar Gul who took 6 for 7 runs in UAE against Australia in the T-20 event, looked completely out of rhythm. While James Anderson, and Finn did display swing and movement, Gull could do that only ocassionaly. Aijaz Cheema does not have nip, and does not possess the talent to be a match winner. They failed to make any impression on the rival batsmen. It was again the spin attack, which helped in containing the England batting line up. Cook and to some extent Bopara took the liberty of driving or sweeping them. Saeed Ajmal, Rehman and Afridi, though as not effective or lethal as in Test matches, did succeed however in putting the lid on the opponents bid to run amock. England was perhaps targeting 280 plus, the way their openers, Cook and Pieterson had started, but the Pakistani spinners held them back from fulfilling their ambitions.
The defeat in the second ODI should not be considered too disappointing. Pakistani team fought back and turned into a tough contest. Wining or losing is part of the game. It does not hurt anyone as long as a fight it seen. Yes, the first one dayer at Abu Dhabi was a huge disappointment where Pakistanis could not even come anywhere near the England total of 260, and were bundled out for just the half of the rival score.
Yet another important factor is selection of the side. Misbahul Haq’s insistence on Shoaib Malik was totally unjustified. He has been off colour since long, scoring neither in domestic cricket, nor in international fixtures. He was given a chance in the first ODI and fared very badly, both with bat and ball. Also Imran Farhat, does not qualify to be in the side. He is there in the team because of being son in law of selector Ilyas. In the second match he scored 37. In all fairness Asad Shafiq should have been preferred. Pakistan needed to strength its batting, especially when England has learnt to overpower the spin menace from Pakistan. Imran Farhat was taken on a tour earlier also, and though he sat out throughout the series, he made considerable money. If that is the criteria of picking up players, that cricket can never regain its past glory in Pakistan.
Yet another factor needs to be mentioned. The commentary on foreign TV by Rameez Raja ans Waqar Yunus. Both seemed to condemn their own players and influenced umpires decisions when Umar Akmal demanded review of the catch Bopara had taken. It looked to have touched the ground, and yet both Waqar and Rameez seemed to favour England that it was a clean catch. No English commentator spoke against their own players, and seem to favour them on delicate issues.