KARACHI: Kevin Pietersen hit sloppy Pakistan where it hurt as England won their opening Super Eight by six wickets courtesy dropped catches and strange on-field decisions by Shahid Afridi yet again.
Pakistan, who were restricted to a modest 147, were let down by poor catching as Saeed Ajmal dropped three chances at the start of the England innings and were made to pay. Pietersen hit an unbeaten 73 off just 52 balls as he added 60 runs with captain Paul Collingwood to end Pakistan’s hopes despite being reduced to 65 for two.
South Africa-born Pietersen, who was dropped by Abdul Razzaq off his own bowling as well, fittingly finished the match with a boundary as England reached home in the final over. Ajmal finished with figures of two for 15 in a match he would rather forget after the dropped catches.
Sluggish Pakistan restricted
Earlier, Kamran Akmal hit a six off the first ball of the match, a Ryan Sidebottom short ball, to give an ideal start to his team. But the continuous search for the big hits and failing to rotate the strike spoiled the start. Akmal (15) and Salman Butt (34) added 31 runs for the first wicket off 30 deliveries before the right-handed wicket-keeper was caught pulling at a short delivery. Mohammad Hafeez tried to stabilise the innings with Butt trying to move away from the stumps almost every ball for a heave.
Three boundaries to go with a six and Butt went on to make 34 before Graeme Swann induced a false shot to end his innings - caught at short extra-cover. Six runs later, Hafeez charged down the track and scooped a catch to short thirdman as Micheal Yardy got his first wicket.
Afridi fails yet again
At 77 for three and a bit of bother, captain Shahid Afridi decided to promote himself up the order. He blocked the first delivery and set off for a suicidal run. The ball rolled towards Luke Wright who threw it to the wicket-keeper with Afridi having given up already. Pakistan crawled towards the 100-run mark as Misbahul Haq and Umar Akmal consolidated.
Misbah (18) was dismissed and Umar followed suit 16 runs later as Pakistan collapsed to 118 for six. Fawad Alam did not last long either while Abdul Razzaq - who looked out of his element except for a solitary six - was caught out as well. Mohammad Aamer was next man out as Pakistan headed for an early finish, 132 for nine. However, Ajmal hit a brief cameo as Pakistan finished with 147 for nine which failed to be enough for the hard-hitting Pietersen.
Making a difference:
World Twenty20’s second highest scorer has 435 runs under his belt from 12 matches, right behind Mahela Jayawerdene. He led England to victory with an unbeaten 52-ball 73, hitting two sixes and eight fours but was dropped by Fawad Alam when on 34.
With pre-tournament predictions of all-rounders being key, Abdul Razzaq has fallen short of expectations, scoring one run against Australia and 10 against England. With the ball, Razzaq has only taken one wicket in the tournament and was thrashed around by Pietersen.
Pakistan’s instrumental spinner was again the leading wicket-taker, with two and even scored 13 of five balls to give Pakistan’s dismal batting a little boost. However, Ajmal was poor in the field, dropping Kieswetter twice at mid-on and Lumb once at mid-off.