Pakistan back in series after victory

Pakistan 241 England 218 (Pakistan win by 23 runs)
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The Independent Online

Umar Gul produced a match-winning spell with the old ball as Pakistan beat England by 23 runs to keep the NatWest Series alive tonight.

Gul's career-best six for 42 featured four wickets for six runs in 18 balls from the pavilion end at the Brit Oval, to bowl England out for 218 under lights and haul the one-day international series score back to 2-1 with two to play.



Eoin Morgan (61) appeared set to justify his billing as England's expert finisher - only to chip an outfield catch off his legs to give Gul the first of two wickets in an over at the start of his third spell.



England had already faltered to 103 for five at one stage of an apparently routine chase - despite Andrew Strauss' 57 - before Morgan and Luke Wright put on 98.



But with Morgan gone and then Tim Bresnan bowled for a duck as Gul got the old ball to snake back into him, huge repsonsibility fell on Wright to eke out the last 40 runs.



To do so, he would also need some significant help from the tail - and with Gul in full flight, it was not forthcoming. He was ultimately left unbeaten two runs short of his 50 when James Anderson was last man out in the 46th over.



Morgan had deployed but not relied on all his usual limited overs tricks to manoeuvre and beat the field as he dominated his stand with Wright.



The Sussex all-rounder had one notable moment of fortune - when he might have gone stumped on 26 by substitute wicketkeeper Umar Akmal off Saeed Ajmal, had umpire Billy Doctrove decided the line call was worth the attention of the third umpire.



Akmal had replaced his brother Kamran, whose finger injury must make him doubtful for the remainder of the series.



With only 241 on the board, it seemed from the outset Pakistan's only feasible method of avoiding series defeat was to bowl their opponents out.



But Strauss and Steve Davies raced to 35 in under six overs, and a breakthrough was badly needed when Abdul Razzaq got one to grip and sneak through the wicketkeeper-batsman's back-foot defences.



Shoaib Akhtar then yorked the in-form Jonathan Trott with a late inswinger, and Ravi Bopara was caught behind trying to drive a full-length doosra in Ajmal's first over.



Shortly after completing a 48-ball 50, Strauss became the first of two batsmen to fall in the space of 10 balls from Gul - edging an attempted drive on the up on to his stumps.



Michael Yardy endured a torrid time against Gul until he was put out of his misery when he was lbw to the ninth delivery he faced.



As long as Morgan was at the crease, England nonetheless appeared to be in control.



But when Gul returned to more than treble his wicket tally, knocking out Stuart Broad's middle stump for his fifth and then Graeme Swann poking a catch to cover off the pace bowler's final delivery, it was all Pakistan.



Anderson had earlier personified England's efficiency as they restricted their opponents to an apparently under-par total.



Only Fawad Alam - with a career-best 64 - managed a half-century, and Anderson was rewarded for his controlled pace with figures of 10-2-26-3.



He and Bresnan (three for 51) saw off both openers inside three overs, and lynchpin Mohammad Yousuf was also soon out of the equation.



Mohammad Hafeez edged a very good ball from Anderson behind, getting faint contact on one that nipped away off the seam, and Kamran Akmal was bowled by Bresnan via a ricochet off the underside of his thigh pad.



Asad Shafiq and Yousuf looked capable of a revival until the veteran was pinned lbw on the back foot by more seam movement from Anderson.



Height was an obvious issue, Hawkeye's projection of the ball clipping the off bail providing partial vindication of Doctrove's decision.



Shafiq then played admirably in company with Alam until he failed to clear long-off as he tried to hit Swann for a straight six to the pavilion end.



Umar Akmal could manage only a frenetic 14 before the returning Bresnan followed him with a short ball and induced a mis-hook.



But Pakistan still had at least two big guns to fire - and the first, Afridi, threatened to deliver in a useful sixth-wicket stand with Alam.



The wheels soon came off again, though, Alam's hard-working 86-ball innings ending when he speared a head-high catch to extra-cover off Yardy.



Then Afridi, who had hit Swann for one memorable straight six, was haplessly run out when he failed to ground his bat properly at the non-striker's end.



Pakistan therefore already had seven wickets down before the last 10 overs - with their powerplay still not taken - and by the time the fielding restrictions had to apply in the last five, they had all but run out of batsmen who could take advantage.



It did not seem they had made the most of their opportunities with the bat - but that was long before Gul put everything into full context.

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