Broad: Bopara wicket was vital
England captain Stuart Broad felt the dismissal of Ravi Bopara changed the outcome of the opening Twenty20 international at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
England, requiring 33 from 25 balls with the in-form Bopara at the crease, looked to be on course for victory.
But when Umar Gul, who claimed 3-18, returned to dismiss the impressive Bopara, who made 39, Jos Buttler and Samit Patel in quick succession, the tourists slipped to an eight-run defeat despite an unbeaten 22 from Jonny Bairstow.
Pakistan had earlier made a challenging 144 for six having been put into bat, Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq hitting their stride - with 39 and 26 not out respectively - and Graeme Swann returning T20-best figures of 3-13 in four overs.
Having gone down 3-0 to Pakistan in the Test series and redeemed themselves with a 4-0 whitewash of their own in the one-day internationals, England are now playing catch-up again in a three-match rubber.
Both Broad and his opposite number, Misbah, were in no doubt about the moment that changed the match.
“It was probably Ravi getting out,” said Broad. “He got a good reverse-swinging leg-stump yorker.
“It made it hard for the guys to come in. But that’s Twenty20 cricket - it can change in one ball. They’re the positions you’d want to win from.
“There was a moment where Ravi was going nicely, and we got the rate down to seven (an over). They’re the sort of games you should be winning.”
Despite the narrow defeat, Broad expects his side to learn from the experience and improve as a result.
“It’s a great experience for the guys. You only learn from your mistakes, and I hope we will learn pretty quickly and put them right,” he said.
“Most times you’d chase that in Twenty20 cricket, but we just didn’t manage to keep an ‘in’ batsman in throughout the innings.
“Throughout all the series [Tests and one-day internationals], it looks like quite a difficult wicket to start on, but once you get in you can be difficult to get out.
“We probably could have had someone go through the innings and win us the game in that way.
“We showed a lot of character actually, when they got a pretty good start, to get them from 70 for one to 70-odd for five.
“Once we were in that position, and keeping them to 144, we were pretty confident at the break that we’d chase that.”
Opposing captain Misbah, was pleased with what he saw as a timely morale boost for his players.
“That really is an important win which we needed for us to get the confidence back, especially the players who were not in good touch or short of confidence,” he added.
“I think we are going to do well in the next two games.”
Misbah was also quick to praise the world-class bowling attack he can call upon when in need of a vital breakthrough.
“The turning point was Ravi Bopara’s wicket. The way he was going, the game was over for us,” he said.
“When you’ve got Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal - three of the top bowlers in Twenty20 cricket, top wicket-takers - you’ve always got a chance.
“That was the key. They kept the pressure on, and finally they just won the game for us. Gul really bowled very well. There was no answer to his bowling today.”
Broad agreed Gul was the difference, adding: “Umar Gul is one of the best Twenty20 bowlers in the world, and he showed his class.
“We probably didn’t play him as well as we could have done. But it’s such a fine line in Twenty20 cricket.”