Saturday, February 19, 2011


Eng 273 all out in 49.4 overs, Pak 206 all out in 46.1 overs - Eng win by 67 runs

Before I let flow my thoughts regarding this game, I must point out an interesting piece of coincident that I have observed. In both of England's warm-up matches (first against Canada and now against Pakistan), England batted first and were bowled out in 49.4 overs. If that is not enough, England won both these matches by bowling out the opposition in 46.1 overs, with Stuart Broad picking up 5 wickets!

Now to the cricket... Pakistan rested their skipper Shahid Afridi and important all-rounder Abdul Razzaq for this game. Misbah-ul-Haq captained Pakistan in this match, where he won the toss and chose to field first.

Andrew Strauss failed yet again, but his new opening partner Kevin Pietersen scored a half-century. This fifty, and starts for Bell and Bopara, will definitely delight English fans... but what they must have enjoyed the most must have been the 73-ball 65 run knock by Paul Collingwood, as England posted 273 before getting bowled out. Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz bagged 3 wickets apiece whereas Shoaib Akhtar proved to be expensive in his spell of 10 overs, grabbing 1 (Strauss) for 62.

Pakistan's reply began on a sedate note as Stuart Broad bowled with a lot of fire, and blew away their top order. He bagged the wickets of Akmal brothers and Hafeez as Pakistan slumped to 34 - 3 in the 10th over, and later came back to bag the wickets of Younis Khan and Wahab Riaz to complete 10 wickets in the two warm-up games.

In between Broad's bursts, Pakistan must have been glad to see Younis Khan strike some sort of a form in his 80-run knock on a slow wicket. He had promising partnerships with Ahmed Shehzad (batting at No. 6) and Misbah-ul-Haq (batting at No. 7), but England were never really sweating for the defence of their target. But that will not worry Pakistan too much, since they were playing without Afridi and Razzaq.

If Stuart Broad took another 5-wicket haul, the performance to delight a lot of English fans came from, once again, Paul Collingwood... who managed 3 for 48 in his 10 overs of gentle medium pace to add to his batting effort for the day. This all-round performance against a decent opposition was just what Collingwood needed before the start of England's World Cup campaign.

After their 6-1 drubbing in Australia, England suddenly look a different unit now with the addition of Stuart Broad, the soon-to-join new-father Graeme Swann, Pietersen's move to the top and today's performance of Paul Collingwood!

I had opined yesterday that Kevin Pietersen's move to the top might just backfire against a lesser opposition. While that prediction was based on the assumption that Paul Collingwood's prolonged bad form will continue further, now it suddenly looks like a stupid prediction to make. But I somehow still want to stick by it because one innings from Paul Collingwood is not enough to convince me that he'll play this way the entire tournament.

But with this one practice game, England have made sure that their World Cup campaign shall become a lot more interesting to follow than I was earlier expecting!

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