Pakistan 207 England win by 8 runs
At first it appeared like a typical tale of England woe with Pakistan, their side packed with spicy wrist and finger spinners, bamboozling an England team chock full of meat and potato all-rounders - or as their coach, David Lloyd, prefers to call them, multi-dimensional players. But while England's batsman were mostly made monkeys of, their bowlers, backed by some of the best fielding in England colours, consigned Pakistan to the also-rans, with a thrilling eight-run victory here yesterday.
However, with England possessing the comforting buffer of a superior run-rate, the excitement of such a close finish was somewhat diluted. In fact, when they had prevented Pakistan winning by the start of the 44th over, they had qualified for the final.
The win did possess an added incentive though and while it neatly kept their unbeaten record intact it also ensured that they would not meet Pakistan again, at least not here. Instead, England now await the outcome of today's game between India and the West Indies to see who they play in the final on Friday, though India need to win by something in the region of 80 runs to have any hope of joining them.
With everything having gone swimmingly, this game was always going to be Adam Hollioake's sternest test to date. Posting a moderate total of 215 to defend against Pakistan, the most talented side in the competition, England's novice captain was bound to come under the microscope.
But if his dismissal, when England were wallowing, possessed some of the foolhardiness of youth, he marshalled England's fightback on the field with skill, courage and determination. Once again it was his and Matthew Fleming's nerveless "death" bowling that sealed the team's win after the No 9, Azhar Mahmood, threatened to win the game for Pakistan.
Facing the penultimate over, with 18 runs needed, Mahmood took nine runs off the England captain's, first four balls, as blockhole deliveries failed to find their mark. Pressure though, can work both ways and with two balls of the over left, Mahmood skied a steepler, which Stewart, running round, safely pouched at mid-wicket.
Next ball it was all over as Saqlain Mushtaq failed to beat Stewart's quicksilver gloves when the batsman hesitated over taking a leg-bye. The win, England's third close one in a row, is bound to have taken its toll on the nerves of Lloyd. For the players though, the experience will toughen as much as it saps, and only persistent gremlins in the batting, have so far made this team look vulnerable.
For once England's pinch hitting plan came off in spades, and 76 were plundered from the first 15 overs. Alistair Brown, the thumper of the opening pair, towed Alec Stewart along in his slipstream, his flashing blade taking heavy toll of Pakistan's opening bowlers, including a mighty on-driven six off Wasim Akram.
After he had gone, popping up a bat-pad catch to the keeper off Surrey team-mate Saqlain Mushtaq, Stewart continued the momentum. Sashaying down the pitch, he struck sixes off both leg-spinners, each one as crisp and clean as spring lettuce leaf.
With the hundred up, England were looking well-placed for a total around 240 when Manzoor, in the side primarily as a batsman, bowled Stewart with a googly from around the wicket. By exploiting the rough in this way, both Manzoor and Mushtaq were able to shackle England's middle order who found anything other than singles, extremely difficult to come by.
It does not take long in one-day matches for such pressure to translate into wickets and Manzoor, with his flat trajectory and awkward turn, took three of the next four wickets to fall as England squandered their speedy start.
But if Hick was the only one who can consider his demise unlucky - bowled off his thigh sweeping - the dismissal of Graham Thorpe was the most doltish on an afternoon that saw more than one England batsman compete for the dunce's cap. Having already turned down Hick's request for a second run, Thorpe, who had turned blind and was several steps down the pitch, was then run out himself, ducking under Ijaz's long throw.
While England's long line of all-rounders gave Saqlain catching practice, the wily off-spinner took his tally of one-day wickets for the year to 69, beating the old record of 65, which he set last year.
Pakistan have played 37 one-day games so far this year, about three times England's annual tally. Nevertheless, Saqlain is a remarkable bowler who has taken off-spin on to another plane, with a mystery ball that appears to kick away from right-hander, like a leg-break. It certainly made cuckoos of Kent's pair of all-rounders Ealham and Fleming, though judging by Saqlain's growing tally, they are not alone.
England won toss
A D Brown c Moin b Saqlain 41
(53 min, 47 balls, 4 fours, 1 six)
A J Stewart b Manzoor 47
(96 min, 66 balls, 3 fours, 2 six)
N V Knight b Manzoor 18
(60 min, 36 balls)
G A Hick b Manzoor 40
(72 min, 53 balls, 2 fours)
G P Thorpe run out (Ijaz-Moin) 3
(5 min, 4 balls)
*A J Hollioake c Afridi b Manzoor 17
(40 min, 27 balls, 1 four)
M A Ealham c and b Saqlain 6
(14 min, 15 balls)
D R Brown not out 18
(38 min, 30 balls)
M V Fleming c and b Saqlain 0
(3 min, 1 ball)
R D B Croft c Ijaz b Saqlain 6
(16 min, 14 balls)
D W Headley not out 6
(10 min, 8 balls)
Extras (b1,lb4,w7,nb1) 13
Total (for 9, 208 min, 50 overs) 215
Fall: 1-71 (Brown), 2-108 (Stewart), 3-121 (Knight), 4-125 (Thorpe), 5-168 (Hollioake), 6-180 (Hick), 7-185 (Ealham), 8-185 (Fleming), 9-203 (Croft).
Bowling: Wasim Akram 6-1-34-0 (nb1,w1) (one spell), Azhar Mahmood 7-1- 31-0 (w1) (5-1-23-0 2-0-8-0), Saqlain Mushtaq 10-1-26-4 (w2) (5-0-14-1 5-1-12-3), Mushtaq Ahmed 10-0-43-0 (w2), Manzoor Akhtar 10-0-50-4 (w1), Shahid Afridi 7-0-26-0 (one spell each).
Progress: 50 in 38 min, 62 balls. 100 in 88 min, 130 balls. 150 in 144 min, 199 balls. 200 in 195 min, 283 balls.
Aamir Sohail b Headley 1
(6 min, 2 balls)
Shahid Afridi b D Brown 0
(1 min, 1 ball)
Saeed Anwar b Croft 54
(93 min, 66 balls, 6 fours, 1 six)
Ijaz Ahmed c Croft b Ealham 41
(90 min, 66 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes)
Akhtar Sarfraz b Croft 20
(42 min, 32 balls, 3 fours)
Manzoor Akhtar run out (Knight-Stewart) 44
(101 min, 68 balls, 2 fours)
Moin Khan c Knight b Fleming 9
(19 min, 14 balls, 1 four)
Mushtaq Ahmed not out 0
(2 min, 0 balls)
Extras (lb5,w5,nb2) 12
Total (219 min, 49 overs) 207
Fall: 1-1 (Shahid Afridi), 2-5 (Aamir Sohail), 3-99 (Saeed Anwar), 4- 99 (Ijaz Ahmed), 5-134 (Akhtar Sarfraz), 6-156 (Moin Khan), 7-177 (Wasim Akram), 8-185 (Manzoor Akhtar), 9-207 (Azhar Mahmood), 10-207 (Saqlain Mushtaq).
Bowling: D Brown 5-0-29-1, Headley 8-0-33-1 (nb2), Ealham 10-1-39-1 (w1), Croft 10-1-39-2 (w2), Hollioake 10-0-35-2 (w1), Fleming 6-0-27-1 (w1) (one spell each).
Progress: 50 in 38 min, 55 balls. 100 in 99 min, 136 balls. 150 in 160 min, 223 balls. 200 in 214 min, 292 balls.
Saeed Anwar 50: 71 min, 55 balls, 6 fours, 1 six.
Umpires: K T Francis and S A Bucknor. Man of the match: Manzoor Akhtar.
Champions' Trophy Table
P W L Pts RR
*England 3 3 0 6 +0.233
West Indies 2 1 1 2 +0.233
Pakistan 3 1 2 2 -0.232
India 2 0 2 0 -0.245
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