x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pakistan go from dust to bust in Dubai

Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook hit 111 and 80 respectively as England win third one-day international. Audio interviews

Kevin Pietersen says he is revelling in UAE conditions. Listen to the audio.
Kevin Pietersen says he is revelling in UAE conditions. Listen to the audio.

DUBAI // Accepted cricket wisdom has it that dust bowls are supposed to favour sides from the subcontinent. Judging by the evidence of last night's one-day international between Pakistan and England, that theory needs revising.

Over the course of the average year, the ground staff have to remove nine tons of sand from the playing area at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

After the high winds that have swept the UAE, they probably had a year's worth of desert relocate onto the green field of Sports City over the course of this weekend.

There could barely have been any more dust around. And yet Pakistan could barely have been more comprehensively beaten.

Crucially, the 22-yard cut strip in the middle of the ground remained a sporting cricket wicket, rather than the type of crumbling, spin-friendly surface which gives "dust bowl" its cricketing definition.

To emphasise the point, neither of England's spinners managed a wicket between them. Yet a series-clinching victory was as good as theirs by the time their turn with the ball was over, after James Anderson, Stuart Broad and the irresistible Steven Finn shot through the Pakistan batting line up.

"We didn't play very well in the Test series, but you don't become bad players overnight," said Alastair Cook, the captain who followed up successive centuries at the start of the series with 80 here.

"We have shown a lot of character in our side to turn it round after losing three straight matches in the Test series."

Kevin Pietersen picked the day it was announced that Graham Gooch is to turn full-time as England's batting coach to return to form, just as Cook had hoped for.

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It says a little about his meagre recent trot - though far more about Cook's rich harvest - that Pietersen was lauded for keeping pace with his partner in their 170-run stand for the first wicket. This time it was Pietersen who was the century maker.

"Hundreds are hard work in one-day cricket," said Pietersen, whose last one in the format came in November 2008. "There is a reason people don't just get them all the time."

Pakistan were able to hold off England for as long as they did only because of an uncharacteristically responsible rescue effort by Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi.

Each made half centuries, but their 79-run alliance was the only significant resistance the host side could muster.

"Cricket is all about pressure and when you feel it things start to go wrong," Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, said.

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Audio interviews courtesy Dubai Sports City