England coast to win against hapless Pakistan
Pakistan 89 England 90-4
World champions England were barely tested by hapless Pakistan in Cardiff tonight as they chalked up their seventh successive Twenty20 victory.
Paul Collingwood's hosts coasted to a six-wicket win, while Pakistan provided more evidence that they are still unable to clear their minds for cricket after the 'spot-fixing' stresses of the past week.
Pakistan chose to bat first but, on a pitch which they also struggled on two days ago, and they stumbled to a hapless 89 all out - failing to come to terms with England's skill and tactical awareness.
After two wickets had twice fallen in quick succession in England's reply, it was again Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy who saw them home to wrap up the NatWest International Series 2-0 and equal a world-record run of victories in the shortest format.
As on Sunday, Pakistan got off to a flying start - for one over.
Kamran Akmal, whose inclusion was notable following a newspaper report this morning linking him to yet more investigations into 'spot-fixing', clubbed the first ball of the mis-match over cover for four off Ryan Sidebottom.
Another seven came from the over, but only 12 more runs in powerplay from the next five.
In that time, Pakistan also lost four wickets - and it was already hard to see how they could possibly salvage a worthwhile total and therefore a passable spectacle for a hugely disappointing crowd of under 6,000 at a 15,000 capacity venue.
Akmal was first to go, as Tim Bresnan (three for 10) and Stuart Broad shared the early spoils - the Yorkshireman taking two for four in five balls and his fellow seamer two for two in five.
A mistimed front foot pull at Bresnan brought Akmal's downfall, caught at midwicket.
Mohammad Yousuf was badly dropped at point by Morgan off Broad, but that slip cost only three runs before the number three pulled Bresnan straight into the hands of deep backward square-leg.
Opener Shahzaib Hasan was caught behind when he got too far inside the line of an attempted hook at Broad, and captain Shahid Afridi's counter-attack mission ended after four balls in a hapless carve into the off-side for a dolly to Morgan off the same bowler.
A minor recovery was hampered by the fact Mohammad Hafeez took almost all the strike and was unable to rotate it.
Umar Akmal hit Graeme Swann for two straight sixes to the short River Taff end in his 17 but was bowled trying a repeat immediately after the second of his maximums.
Two wickets fell for one run to make it 56 for seven, Hafeez run out when he was slow to set off attempting a single to short fine-leg off Swann and beaten to the non-striker's end by Sidebottom's throw and Fawad Alam then edging the off-spinner behind first ball.
Abdul Razzaq and Umar Gul were handed an unenviable task but did put on 29, for the biggest stand of the innings, until they went to successive deliveries from Sidebottom.
Big hitter Razzaq could never get going, escaping a very tight third-umpire call for a stumping off Swann on six, and he eventually looped a catch to short third-man off Sidebottom - who doubled up when Gul holed out on the pull to deep square-leg.
Bresnan returned to take the final wicket, bowling Shoaib Akhtar as the number 10 backed away to try to hit his second four through the off-side.
England's impressive quintet of bowling figures was completed by the miserly but wicketless Yardy, who had taken advantage of Pakistan's struggles to hurry through his four overs for only 10 runs.
The tourists were therefore all out in only 18.4 overs, lurching below three figures for the first time in the 40 Twenty20 matches they have so far played.
They mustered only 10 runs more than the worst ever total by a Test nation.
When Afridi got only his fingertips to Steve Davies' aerial clip off his legs for four in Shoaib's first over of England's reply - and Craig Kieswetter then hit Gul for an in-out six over extra cover, early confirmation was provided that Pakistan's trip to Wales would bring them no solace from their off-field troubles.
There was not even the small mercy of a quick kill either, because England had to reassess their chase when Davies chipped an easy catch to midwicket off Shoaib and Kieswetter was run out next ball thanks to a direct hit from cover by Umar Akmal.
There was nonetheless a yawning leeway - even after Collingwood was caught at slip off Saeed Ajmal and Ravi Bopara was lbw pulling Afridi - for Morgan and Yardy to do the necessary, with six overs to spare.
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