England’s last-gasp Twenty20 win over Pakistan last night sent them home with smiles on their faces – but was no true consolation for their Test disappointments in the United Arab Emirates.
Stuart Broad’s team prevailed, against the odds for much of the deciding match of three, by five runs on the back of Kevin Pietersen’s unbeaten 62 and fine bowling from the captain himself and Jade Dernbach.
Pakistan seemed sure to win with time and wickets to spare, in pursuit of 129 for six at the Zayed Stadium.
But on a pitch which had played to the strengths principally of Pakistan’s spinners – Saeed Ajmal was again the scourge of England with four for 23 – seamers Broad and Dernbach did most to close out victory in the final three overs.
Nonetheless, after a 3-0 Test whitewash for the world number ones – and even accounting for a subsequent 4-0 one-day international series success, to preface the Twenty20s – Broad admitted the main prize had gone astray.
“The one-dayers and Twenty20s don’t make up for the Test matches, because that was a hugely disappointing series for us,” he said, having featured throughout in all three formats.
Broad is optimistic, however, that England have learnt from their tribulations against the spin of Ajmal and others in these conditions and will therefore be better equipped for two Tests in Sri Lanka which start next month.
“We came over here wanting to prove ourselves in Asia – and we didn’t do that,” he said.
“But we do have an opportunity when we go to Sri Lanka to do that.
“It’s been a learning experience here, and you learn from your mistakes.
“We’ll have to learn quickly, going to Sri Lanka – and that will be our biggest test now.
“If we go there and score runs, it shows we’ve got some character in the batting line-up.”
Broad is enthused already by the resilience England displayed in the desert, to win both series after the Tests.
“To be the best team in the world, you have to show character – and a lot of the guys who’ve stayed on really did that,” he said.
“To win the ODI series 4-0, and the Twenty20 series, is fantastic.
“We leave on a high; confidence is high.
“It gives us a lot of confidence for the [Twenty20] World Cup in the sub-Continent in September.”
England, set this morning to name their Test squad for Sri Lanka, can be mighty relieved at Pietersen’s return to form.
He, along with the rest of the top six, had no answer to Ajmal et al in the Tests – but hit back with successive ODI hundreds at the top of the order and then continued in fine form as opener in the Twenty20s too. Pietersen said of the tour as a whole: “It was an exceptional end, and a slow start.
“Full credit to the bowlers, who bowled really well throughout.
“The batters came unstuck in the Test series against the spinners.
“But I thought between Tests two and three they knuckled down and decided ‘we’ve got to turn ourselves on here, and try to fix something’.”
He is therefore looking forward to future assignments in Asia.
“I do believe we’re on our way to fixing a problem of playing spin in the subcontinent,” he said.
“To finish the tour like we did is fantastic. Then it’s back to business in Sri Lanka.”
Audio courtesy of Dubai Sports City