x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Alastair Cook leads by example for England

England captain's century in Abu Dhabi sets up win for 2-0 lead in series over Pakistan.

England captain Alastair Cook celebrates reaching his century in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
England captain Alastair Cook celebrates reaching his century in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Alastair Cook's second hundred in successive one-day internationals once more underpinned victory as England went 2-0 up with two to play against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

Two days after his career-best 137, Cook (102) became the 10th England batsman - and first since Paul Collingwood five years ago - to make back-to-back ODI centuries.

The captain had to work a little harder in England's 250 for four this time - dropped by wicketkeeper Umar Akmal on 28, having chosen to bat first on a slow pitch - and his team did too, to get home by a mere 20 runs, compared to Monday's 130-run win.

Cook belied his characteristically functional style by manufacturing some memorable shots among his 10 fours for a 118-ball hundred, in a match which bore obvious similarities to the first one of the series here.

"It was a slightly different wicket to Monday, it was slower. We thought 250 would be tough to chase down," said Cook. "We knew when we bowled up front it was the best time to bat and we got ahead of the game with Steve Finn especially. We fielded outstandingly well."

 

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Listen to Cook's interview

 

Audio interviews courtesy Dubai Sports City

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Cook's success at the toss, his man-of-the-match hundred, Ravi Bopara's second consecutive 50 and identical figures for Steven Finn (four for 34) were constants from the tourists' first success on this quick return to the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

But for variation it was Samit Patel, with the ball and in the field, who made perhaps the most telling interventions as six Pakistan batsmen made double figures but Misbah-ul-Haq top-scored with just 47.

"Today batsmen realised their duties at the top of the order but the main difference was the fielding," said Misbah after the match. "We kept losing wickets at the wrong time. It was the job of the top six to get the runs."

Cook and Kevin Pietersen shared their second 50 opening stand in as many attempts together.

Early progress was nonetheless patchy, Cook playing out a maiden to Umar Gul's first over of the match and needing 10 balls to get off the mark.

Cook survived when Akmal dropped a faint edge from an attempted cut at Afridi, but the wicketkeeper did manage to hold a routine catch to see off Jonathan Trott after a flat-footed waft at a wide ball from Cheema.

Much therefore depended on Cook and Bopara again, and the Essex pair duly served their country well in a stand of 78.

Pakistan tried their hardest to keep up their run rate and England survived some nervy moments but the "home" side came up just short in their pursuit of 250.

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Mohammed Hafeez talks up his team's chances

 

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