DUBAI - Kevin Pietersen and Craig Keiswetter with a superb 109 runs fifth wicket stand deprived Pakistan of face-saving win in the last one-day international and helped England complete clean-sweep and sweat revenge of 3-0 Pakistan Test whitewash here at the Dubai Sports Stadium on Tuesday night
If Pakistan have scored 250 plus runs then there was no reason that visitors have taken away the game from England reach. Though Pakistani players displayed superb skills in fielding and bowling but slow scoring in middle overs of the innings let them down. Lack of game plan cost Pakistan the series as team management failed to chalk-out strategy according to requirement of the situation. If the management continued to act like this then they can also gift the Twenty20 series to England.
Junaid Khan took in-form batsman and England skipper Alastair Cook wicket in his first over and later spinners made England struggle as at one stage the visitors were tottering at 68 for 4. But Keiswetter joined hands with KP and the two steadied their innings and took score to 177 before the former was being run out at his personal score of 43 runs by Azhar/Adnan. But KP blocked one end and frustrated Pakistani bowlers.
Kevin Pietersen had the last two matches of this series to save his one-day career and less than week later he has back-to-back hundreds to his name - the second a career-best 130 - a spring in his step and a strut at the crease as he guided England to a whitewash against Pakistan with four balls to spare.
Pietersen became the second England batsman in the series, following captain Alastair Cook, to hit consecutive hundreds and it was the second time Pietersen had achieved the feat, following the South Africa series in 2004-05 at the start of his career. It's long been a criticism of England's one-day game that there aren't enough individual three-figure innings so it will provide huge satisfaction for Andy Flower and Graham Gooch, shortly to become the full-time batting coach.
The series, too, is a huge feather in the caps of Flower and Cook. The 4-0 scoreline is England's first whitewash against anyone other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since they beat Australia before the 1997 Ashes. This was a better display from Pietersen than his hundred on Saturday and it was also his longest ODI innings.
Pietersen's main moment of concern came when he was saved by the DRS on 80 after getting into a horrid tangle trying to scoop Abdur Rehman over his shoulder. He was given out lbw by umpire Zameer Haider but replays showed he'd been struck outside off stump. Last week Pietersen spoke about DRS being his biggest challenge; here it was his biggest saviour.
The review system made an important intervention when Samit Patel, on 5 and with England needing 44 off 40 balls, was given lbw by Haider but had also been struck outside the line. It wasn't a great evening for the umpires with Cook earlier given not out before Pakistan reviewed.
Pietersen hundred is his ninth in ODIs and is also his highest score. He is now second behind Marcus Trescothick on the list of England batsmen with the most ODI centuries. KP’s 130 is the fourth-highest score by an England batsman against Pakistan and the third-highest outside England after Graham Gooch's 142 in Karachi in 1987 and Alastair Cook's 137 in this series.
England's 4-0 series win is their first ever series whitewash in ODI series of four or more matches against top teams (Zimbabwe and Bangladesh excluded). Their only previous such series results have come against Zimbabwean 2001-02 and 2004-05.
Pakistan played one fast bowler in Junaid Khan who provided breakthrough in his first over. But spinners Afridi proved too costly in this match perhaps this was not his day and scored just 9 runs before falling prey to a diving catch at mid-wicket.
Azhar and Asad Shafiq provided a crucial partnership of 111 runs but they failed to save their team from defeat. It was a good show from Pakistan. Now the series became history and Pakistan should have now think about three-match Twenty20 series set to explode from today (Thursday) and pit a side according to the situation and after monitoring pitch condition.
Pakistan coach, captain and team management should prepare strategy for the upcoming T20 series and include deserved players in the team having capabilities of lusty hitting that is imperative for this format of game
Pakistan urged to take wholesale measures for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup to be played in England and next 2015 World Cup. Pakistan Cricket Board should announce a pool of 50 players to make back up of senor players, on verge of retirement, to combat future situation. The pool should be handed over to head coach Dav Whatmore who will likely to join Pakistan team prior to start of the Asia Cup to be held in Bangladesh from March 1.
–HAROON SIDDIQUI