Turnaround in Dubai: Tests losers batter Pak in one-day

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , ,

After being white-washed in the Test series, England have managed to bounce back. And in what exhilarating fashion. England began the series with the new opening partnership of Captain Cook and Kevin Pietersen. The first two one-dayers had a striking similarity - a century by Cook and 4 wickets by Finn. Yet, they were extremely different. While England won the first with no struggle, the second tested them. They would be proud of winning the first, especially since it followed their drubbing in Tests, but it's the battles like the second, which give you a rush. From the spectators point of view, all three had something interesting to offer. The first made sure that this tour isn't going to be one-sided. The second was a close contest. And the third? The third had Kevin Pietersen. When KP is on song, he takes cricket to a higher level. The transition from other cricket to Kevin Pietersen's batting is the same as the one from school books to erotic fiction. Not to forget, I predicted an entertaining show from him in my last post, England at a loss in victory as Lions crushed before one-day against Pak.

These 3 matches couldn't have been better for me. Two centuries by Cook, success for Finn and KP, it just couldn't get better than that. Before this series, Finn had expressed a desire to play in Tests, and again, he has said that Tests is where he wants to be, for the rest of his career. Performing in all the three one-days means that he is pushing harder for a place in Tests. England next head to Sri Lanka for 2 Tests, the squad for which will be announced after the 3rd Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi.
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England at a loss in victory as Lions crushed before one-day against Pak

Posted: Sunday, February 12, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

England go into the one-day series with an aim to take revenge. But, actually it's more about salvaging pride. England's batting might have shocked Geoffrey Boycott, but this was long overdue. If you leave the Twenty20 International against India, England have lost their last 9 International matches.

Positives can always be taken. The England staff should be proud of Stuart Broad. After all, he is their well crafted weapon. He wasn't a Test bowler when they decided to make him a part of England side in all formats. Earlier, his success came in bouts. But, he was not only the bowler of the series for England, but also batted positively. I have one complaint in the bowling department though. Monty Panesar bowled 141 overs in 2 matches, while Graeme Swann bowled 115 in 3 matches. Swann had a strike rate of 53 while Monty, 60. Also, in Pakistan's first innings in the 3rd Test, he bowled a wicket maiden, but was removed after that. Monty has been in and out of the side, while Swann is here to stay, he has performed consistently. England should be careful to retain his shine and not rust him.

The Test series may have been horrendous for England, but it will help in boosting the popularity of Test cricket. 2nd Test was the most exciting one, as the advantage flipped from one side to the other. It carried to the 3rd Test as England bowled Pakistan out for 99. And then managed only 141 themselves. We had a contest on hand until Azhar Ali and Younis Khan shared a partnership of 216. The series also revived the art of spin bowling as spinners of both teams prospered.

On Friday, England XI swept past England Lions with ease. Steven Finn had referred to this match as important for both sides, since he remembers Kieswetter and Lumb made their way to World Twenty20 and he, himself got into Tests a month after such a game. This match, however, turned out be a battering of the Lions, and thus didn't benefit either side much. England bowled the Lions out for 99, and although a revised target of 230 was set, England chased without any struggle. Dernbach, Swann, Trott, Cook and Pietersen flourished while Finn grabbed 3 wickets, including two tail-enders and Bopara chipped in 36. Pietersen may not have scored that many runs in the Test series, but he looked in good touch in both the Tests and the Lions game. I'm telling you, a splendid knock by him is just around the corner. Haha, got to take my chances, no harm in predicting. Great if I prove to be right!

This is Sanya, signing off. Cheers.

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Well, this is hilarious. The team which beat Pakistan (at home) by 3-1, Australia (away) by 3-1 and India (at home) by 4-0 has been whitewashed by Pakistan. England are still No.1 on ICC Test rankings though.

Batting has long been a concern for England, but Cook's and Trott's success let other batsmen get away with it. When the whole team fumbles, no one goes ignored. Apparently, England's lower order fights till they can, but the batsmen don't. Prior's average in this series was 37.50, the highest among England players. The second highest was Trott's - 26.83, which is of course way below a good batsman's average. Just because these were Tests, strike rates can't be ignored. Cook and Strauss stayed at the crease in some of the innings, but it didn't help as the runs dried, which built the pressure. Also, Prior and Broad were left stranded when they got going, which shows how irresponsible English batsmen are. Both of them showed that this isn't the toughest pitch to bat on, positive intent works in your favour if you are courageous enough against tough tasks.

Kevin Pietersen is the first one to get some flak, when England crumbles. Or rather when he doesn't smash a few centuries and a double century in a row. Because, one century just isn't enough. It gets him remarks like "Great batsmen can bat all day, Kevin Pietersen is too impatient to be great." But, captain Strauss' average in the last 11 Tests is 27.41 with no century. And in this series, Ian Bell has only scored more runs than Monty Panesar and Chris Tremlett. Perhaps England should try reversing the order, with Matty Prior, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Graeme Swann being the top 4. Can't do much worse than the batters anyway. I guess the tail-enders play free-spiritedly, with dreams of becoming heroes, while the batters take pressure and consider runs a "job" they have to do. May be because bowlers are used to being fighters, they keep bowling, close calls for them mean they are on the right track. But, even if things aren't going their way, they know one lethal delivery could make their day. On the other hand, as a batsman, you know you have to keep going, ball by ball, run by run. Miracles happen slowly in the life of a batsman, but it's not always the case with bowlers. Luck plays a role for bowlers, they are dependent on the batsman to make a mistake. But, nothing comes to the batsmen easily, they have to work their way, steadily.

England one-day squad: A Cook (capt), J Anderson, J Bairstow, R Bopara, T Bresnan, D Briggs, S Broad, J Buttler, J Dernbach, S Finn, C Kieswetter, E Morgan, S Patel, K Pietersen, G Swann, J Trott.

England Twenty20 squad: S Broad (capt), J Anderson, J Bairstow, R Bopara, T Bresnan, D Briggs, J Buttler, J Dernbach, S Finn, A Hales, C Kieswetter, E Morgan, S Patel, K Pietersen, G Swann.

Pakistan one-day squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Aizaz Cheema, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Wahab Riaz, Hammad Azam.

Pakistan Twenty20 squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafique, Adnan Akmal, Awais Zia, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Wahab Riaz, Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan, Hammad Azam.

With a team as ecstatic as Pakistan, and an opener as flamboyant as Kevin Pietersen, (Yeah! News just in.) the 4 one-day series and 3 Twenty20 series promises to be exciting. I have missed Steven Finn, looking forward to seeing him play. Until then, take care. See you next time.

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