x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Pakistan beat England to keep ODI series alive

The controversial one-day series goes to 2-2 and a deciding game on Wednesday after Pakistan win by 38 runs.

LONDON // Pakistan took the one-day series against England to a deciding fifth match after winning by 38 runs yesterday, on a day relations between the two teams threatened to boil over following fresh corruption claims. Having set England 266 to win the fourth one-dayer and take an unassailable lead in the series, Pakistan bowled the home side out for 227 in 46.1 overs at Lord's to level it at 2-2.

Pakistan paceman Umar Gul had the best bowling figures of 4-32, while England captain Andrew Strauss top-scored with 68. The match had gone ahead despite England's outrage at the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt's accusation that England players threw Friday's match at The Oval, which Pakistan won by 23 runs to keep the series alive. Mr Butt's allegations came after an investigation was opened by the ICC following claims the scoring in Pakistan's innings on Friday was prearranged.

The last match is at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday. A succession of fixing scandals have overshadowed the last two months of Pakistan's ill-fated tour and they look set to continue. The deterioration of relations between the two teams sank to new depths before the start of play when Butt's allegations, made on Sunday and repeated Monday, were dismissed by the England and Wales Cricket Board as "wholly irresponsible and completely without foundation".

Strauss said his players was upset their integrity had been questioned, adding they and the ECB were considering legal action and that there were mixed feelings about playing Monday but the team felt it had a responsibility to do so. Abdul Razzaq's entertaining end-of-innings flourish, during which he bludgeoned eight fours and a six to score 44 off 20 balls, gave Pakistan a challenging total of 265-7 to defend.

England, which recalled fit-again batsmen Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell in the only two changes, got off to a flyer in its reply thanks to a 113-run opening partnership between Strauss and Steven Davies (49). The stand, which came off 123 balls, ended when Davies chopped a delivery from Saeed Ajmal onto his own stumps and Jonathan Trott followed him after playing on off Shahid Afridi for 4. Wahab Riaz, who has also been questioned by police about fixing allegations but whom wasn't selected in Pakistan's team, and Trott had been involved in a confrontation in the nets before play started. They were both spoken to by match referee Jeff Crowe.

The jitters really set in when Strauss, who struck eight fours in a battling knock, slashed a wide ball from Shoaib Akhtar straight to Fawad Alam at point in the next over. With Afridi looking menacing and Akhtar steaming in under the floodlights, Pakistan were in the ascendancy. And when Gul bowled Collingwood for 4 and Bell drove straight at Azhar Ali for 27, England were on the ropes having lost four wickets for 36 runs and with the required run rate up to 7.75 an over.

England still had hope with limited-overs specialist Eoin Morgan at the crease but he was running out of partners, Michael Yardy becoming the third England batsman to play onto his own stumps, out for 9. When Morgan departed for 28, the game was up for the hosts as the tail surrendered. Earlier, Graeme Swann helped England stem the tide after a strong start from Pakistan but Razzaq's late blitz had given the tourists a slight edge.

Pakistan's first wicket fell on 62 when Kamran Akmal hooked Stuart Broad to Strauss on 28. Swann then entered the scene to slow the run rate and take the next four wickets. The offspinner, who on Monday made the shortlist for the ICC Cricketer of the Year award, bowled Asad Shafiq for 11 with his fifth ball and then had Mohammad Yousuf on 3 caught behind in his next over to leave the score at 94-3.

A rash heave by Hafeez, frustrated at England slowing Pakistan's run rate, was caught from a top-edge off Swann to end a 100-ball knock that included five fours and a six. Swann bowled Alam for 29 in his last over but Pakistan prospered in the spinner's absence - Afridi hitting 37 off 22 balls and Razzaq coming to the fore in the final 12 overs. Razzaq's cameo featured five successive fours off Bresnan to finish the innings.

* AP