Morgan Stars As England Beat World Champions
England 130-3 (Morgan 67no) beat
Pakistan 129-8 (Shoaib Malik 33, Swann 2-18) by seven wickets
First Twenty20 International, Dubai
An unbeaten 112-run partnership between Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan followed a superb display in the field and guided England to a deserved seven-wicket win over Pakistan in the first Twenty20 International in Dubai.
After Pakistan were restricted to 129 for eight, England overcame the loss of three early wickets to get home with nine balls to spare, Morgan unbeaten on 67 and Pietersen on 43.
Stuart Broad held three catches and along with Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan, picked up two wickets as Pakistan never found anything like top gear on a slow track at the Dubai Sports City stadium.
They won the toss and chose to bat but got off to a sticky start, Ryan Sidebottom, Broad, and Tim Bresnan keeping things tight and getting their reward with the wicket of Imran Nazir, who faced 15 balls for two runs before pulling Broad to Joe Denly in the deep.
Opening partner Imran Farhat then flicked Bresnan for two leg-side fours but shortly after was run out by a direct hit from Kevin Pietersen as Pakistan crawled to 25 for two in six overs - their lowest score during a Power Play. Luke Wright and Swann then compounded their misery by taking a wicket in their first overs, Wright's slower ball inducing Khalid Latif (4) to edge to Matthew Prior, and Swann having Umar Akmal flamboyantly caught at gully by Broad for 13.
Shoaib Malik played some lovely strokes on his way to 33 in 26 balls and it took until the 13th over for the first six to be registered, Fawad Alam clipping Paul Collingwood into the stands. After Malik was dismissed, Abdul Razzaq repeated the trick, pulling Broad powerfully but the wickets continued to tumble, both Razzaq (22) and Sarfraz Ahmed (5) offering Broad catches in the third man region, Bresnan also joining the fun by picking up two for 30.
Broad, along with his three catches, picked up two for 23 while Swann returned two for 18 to limit Pakistan to their second-lowest T20 International total.
In a low-scoring ame, the early departures of Jonathan Trott (4), Joe Denly (1) and Paul Collingwood (0) could have brought Pakistan back into the game but it wasn't to be as England held their nerve.
Trott had been trapped in front by Abdul Razzaq, Denly chipped Yasir Arafat to Imran Farhat at midwicket and Collingwood was run out as Pietersen attempted a second run that wasn't there.
After the six overs of Power Play, England were on 25 for three, a worse position than Pakistan found themselves in and it was unsurprisingly a new record low for England too.
A key turning point came not long after when Pietersen was dropped by Ahmed after he edged Umar Gul; that would have made the score 48 for four and would have put the game back in the balance but the longer Pietersen and Morgan batted together, the more comfortable England were, despite the odd misunderstanding which almost saw Morgan run out just before he reached a second Twenty20 International half-century.
He got there with typically clever strokeplay, bringing up the half-century partnership with a six off Gul and majoring with leg-side deflections and pulls, putting England completely in charge by taking Razzaq for three fours in the 14th over.
Pietersen also grew in confidence as he spent valuable time at the crease and whereas England had been outstanding in the field, Pakistan were sloppy towards the latter stages.
Morgan cut Gul for four to begin the penultimate over to bring up the century partnership, hit another boundary immediately after to ensure that the partnership was the biggest in T20 Internationals for England and then won the game with a huge six over square leg.
Morgan faced 51 balls hitting seven fours and two sixes while Pietersen faced 43 balls, stroking three fours.
The two sides meet again in the second and final game on 20th February.
© Cricket World 2010