Pakistan are in meltdown. Forget match-fixing allegations – there will soon be a case for abandoning this tour for lack of competition.
Of course, it could be that trying to play international cricket in a foreign land with three of their colleagues suspended – at least one other under suspicion and who knows how many more perhaps to be summoned – has simply taken its toll.
The tourists were as shambolic last night in the second Twenty20 international as England, the world champions and looking as though they knew it, were efficient. Nothing is going right for Pakistan and, at present, nothing looks as though it will go right again.
The tourists were all out for 89 in 18.4 overs, hopelessly outmanoeuvred on a pitch not truly fit for T20 purpose. England, at least, were made to work for their runs but there was never any doubt that they would win the series 2-0. It took them only 14 overs to reach the target, with six wickets to spare. They were seen home by Eoin Morgan, an old hand at this now, and Mike Yardy – the pair who also performed the honours in the first match on Sunday.
This was England's seventh consecutive T20 win. Only two sides have matched that sequence, one of them being Pakistan between June and November last year. Too little has been made of England's triumph in the World Twenty20 in May, when they won five successive matches and the tournament at a gallop going away from the rest.
Collapses can happen in short-form cricket, because one thing leads to another in no time. But this embarrassing tumble was predictable from the moment Pakistan won the toss and batted in front of a crowd which defied the idea that T20 is the game of the people. The people, or all but around 4,000 of them, stayed away.
The absentees were doing themselves a favour and whatever they were skipping the match for – washing their hair, watching paint dry, dancing in the rain – they chose the right option. England do not deserve this.
The only upside to Pakistan's total – if you were, as sportsmen are encouraged to do, looking for positives – was that their total was higher than those they managed in two of their innings in Tests this summer. For a long stretch last night, they did not seem as though they would be in such profit.
Their strokes were wildly speculative, uncontrolled and based on hope that was never likely to be realised.
It may be recalled – but so much has happened since then that it may not – that in July, Pakistan beat Australia in two Twenty20 matches in two days at Edgbaston. How rosy prospects for the summer were then.
Pakistan came into last night's match against the backdrop of further revelations of corruption. They were already without their two best bowlers, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, and their Test captain and opening batsman, Salman Butt – all suspended by the ICC, pending investigations by the police and cricket authorities. But other players in the touring party have also come under suspicion for misdemeanours.
The constant claims and counter-claims must have begun to affect the party. So it proved last night.
Afridi might have chosen to bat because of the uncertain weather but he will also have borne in mind that his side beat Australia twice by batting first.
The trouble began almost immediately. In the second over, Kamran Akmal – one of those now under the ICC spotlight – was out pulling to midwicket after a couple of mighty swipes. Mohammad Yousuf was dismissed by the sixth ball he faced, fortunate to have survived so long; Shahzaib Hasan to his eighth, the captain and Shahid Afridi to his fourth.
England were merely following the traditional virtues of bowling straight balls, Pakistan pursuing the conventionally reckless course of trying to hit them. The arrival into the attack of Graeme Swann and Mike Yardy merely brought the batsmen fresh problems to compete with.
There was a captivating, if brief, contest between Swann and Umar Akmal. Flamboyantly talented, Akmal decided to take on the world's leading spin bowler and struck him for two beautifully timed straight sixes. Game to the kid. Swann responded immediately to the second six by tossing up an inviting slower ball, slightly shorter, which Akmal misread, only to see it turn past his optimistic drive and bowl him. Set and match to the master.
That was more or less that. England lost their top four, including their captain, Paul Collingwood, who still needs some T20 runs despite his 25. It might have been close if Pakistan had made 130. But they did not and it was not.
Second Twenty20 international. SWALEC Stadium; England beat Pakistan by six wickets; Pakistan won toss
†K Akmal c Swann b Bresnan 11/0/2/10
M S H Khan c Davies b Broad 3/0/0/8
M Yousuf c Bopara b Bresnan 4/0/0/6
U Akmal b Swann 17/2/0/13
*S S M K Afridi c Morgan b Broad 2/0/0/4
M Hafeez run out (Sidebottom) 14/0/1/32
A Razzaq c Yardy b Sidebottom 11/0/1/20
F Alam c Davies b Swann 0/0/0/1
U Gul c Bopara b Sidebottom 16/1/1/13
S Akhtar b Bresnan 4/0/1/4
S Ajmal not out 0/0/0/1
Extras (lb 2, w 5) 7
Total (18.4 overs) 89
Fall 1-11, 2-18, 3-20, 4-22, 5-44, 6-55, 7-56, 8-85, 9-85, 10-89
Bowling R J Sidebottom 3-0-22-2, T T Bresnan 3.4-0-10-3, S C J Broad 4-0-18-2, M H Yardy 4-0-10-0, G P Swann 4-0-27-2
C Kieswetter run out (Akmal) 16/1/2/10
†S M Davies c Akmal b Akhtar 9/0/1/6
R S Bopara lbw b Afridi 12/0/1/24
*P D Collingwood c Hafeez b Ajmal 21/1/0/25
E J G Morgan not out 18/0/3/14
M H Yardy not out 6/0/0/6
Extras (b 4, lb 2, w 1, nb 1) 8
Total (4 wkts, 14 overs) 90
Fall 1-26, 2-26, 3-57, 4-63.
Did not bat: L J Wright, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, S C J Broad, R J Sidebottom
Bowling S Akhtar 4-1-18-1, U Gul 2-0-23-0, S Ajmal 3-0-13-1, S S M K Afridi 3-0-15-1, M Hafeez 2-0-15-0
Umpires I J Gould & R K Illingworth.
TV replay umpire R A Kettleborough.
Match referee J J Crowe (NZ).
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