Wednesday 15 February 2012 

Cook Leads From The Front As England Go 2-0 Up

Cook Leads From The Front As England Go 2-0 Up
Cook Leads From The Front As England Go 2-0 Up
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

England 250-4 (Cook 102, Bopara 58) beat
Pakistan 230 (Finn 4-34) by 20 runs
Second One-Day International, Abu Dhabi

England produced another excellent performance to win the second One-Day International against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi by 20 runs to move into an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

Alastair Cook became the first England captain to hit back-to-back ODI centuries as England posted 250 for four and Steven Finn then took four wickets to dismiss Pakistan for 230 in reply.

Finn exactly matched his figures in the opening game to take four for 34 and finish off Pakistan's challenge after Misbah-ul-Haq (47) and Shahid Afridi (18) briefly threatened.

Ravi Bopara scored his second straight half-century, making 58 while Imran Farhat was Pakistan's other main contributor, also scoring 47 at the top of the order.

England were gifted a good start as after winning the toss once again, Pakistan's opening pair Aizaz Cheema and Umar Gul were wayward, allowing Cook and Kevin Pietersen (26) to take early boundaries, Cook settling quickly and hitting Mohammad Hafeez for two more in the eighth over.

With the score on 61, wicket-keeper Umar Akmal put Cook down behind the wicket after he edged Shahid Afridi with the left-hander on 28. He went on to make Pakistan fully for that indiscretion.

Pietersen and Cook added 67 for the first wicket before Pietersen was trapped in front by Saeed Ajmal although his departure hardly checked England's progress. Cook and Jonathan Trott (23) were able to easily milk singles to keep the scoreboard ticking over and soon Cook had his 11th ODI half-century in the bag.

Their 49-run stand was ended when Trott edged Cheema to Akmal and this time he made no mistake. Soon after, Cook reached his century, becoming the ninth Englishman to hit consecutive ODI tons and the first captain. It took him 118 balls to get there and included ten fours.

He didn't go much further, popping a simple return catch to Afridi having made 102.

Eoin Morgan (25 not out) took advantage of Akmal dropping him first ball and he managed to hit the first six of the series - and biggest of the day - when he slog swept Ajmal high over midwicket as he and Bopara grafted hard to add vital late runs to England's score.

Bopara played fluently, hitting four fours before he fell to the final ball of the innings, skying Cheema high into the air for Akmal to finally claim a second catch.

England's bowlers then made a good start to defending their total and allowed Pakistan openers Farhat and Hafeez (26) little to work with.

Slowly, however, the pair began to grow in confidence and put on 61 for the first wicket before Hafeez clipped James Anderson to Trott at midwicket for an easy catch.

Farhat and Azhar Ali (31) continued the good work until Farhat's inning was ended in slightly unusual circumstances. After he was struck on the pad by Stuart Broad and the inevitable appeal went up for leg before, he shuffled down the crease despite the ball having rolled straight towards the bowler.

After the appeal was quickly dismissed, Broad reacted quickest, picking up the ball and throwing down the stumps with Farhat well short.

Younus Khan came and went swiftly, trapped in front for five by Samit Patel and Azhar was then bowled by Patel by a delivery that turned a little more than he was expecting.

The Nottinghamshire man was in the thick of the action and then took an impressive catch, diving forward at cover to remove the dangerous Akmal, who had raced to 21 in 23 balls before he drove Finn into the off side.

England were better than Pakistan in the field, although Craig Kieswetter had missed Farhat off Broad shortly before he was run out and Broad then just failed to take an outstanding catch in the deep which would have seen Afridi on his way having scored just one.

Misbah's quiet accumulation was the perfect foil for Afridi's assault and acceleration was badly needed when he arrived at the crease. He quickly provided it by hammering Patel for a six down the ground to bring up Pakistan's 200 and then blast him through the covers for four.

England almost wobbled, but the experience of Anderson won them the play within a play when he bowled Afridi - who had smacked 18 in as many balls - as the all-rounder tried to hit across the line.

Finn then clean bowled Abdur Rehman (1) and it was Broad who grabbed th ekey wicket of Misbah. Kieswetter atoned for his earlier error with an excellent diving effort under a swirling ball to effectively end Pakistan's hopes.

The victory was confirmed when Gul was trapped in front by Finn for five and Cheema was bowled by the same bowler for one.

The third game in the series is in Dubai on 18th February.

© Cricket World 2012