Jade puts paid to Pakistan challenge
Jade Dernbach and Stuart Broad held their nerve in a dramatic finale as England sealed a 2-1 Twenty20 international series victory courtesy of a five-run triumph against Pakistan.
Having levelled the three-match rubber with a 38-run victory in Dubai on Saturday, the tourists’ hopes of winning rested on their ability to defend a score of 129 for six.
Pakistan appeared favourites to win with three overs remaining - they needed 23 runs - but Dernbach and Broad bowled brilliantly as England sealed a dramatic victory.
The pitch proved inconsistent and slow throughout as the designated hosts - led by Saeed Ajmal’s 4-23 - restricted England, who had won the toss, in the first innings.
That they reached their eventual total was thanks to Kevin Pietersen, who hit an impressive 52-ball 62 not out to set up an intriguing chase.
In reply, Pakistan initially batted impressively as contributions from Awais Zia, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq put them in command.
But Broad and Dernbach dragged England back into the game, the latter bowling Misbah with the game’s final delivery as he attempted to hit a match-winning six.
Pakistan opted to give Mohammad Hafeez the new ball, but Pietersen illustrated his intent with a glorious sweep over square-leg.
Aizaz Cheema, though, was providing a different challenge, narrowly missing Craig Kieswetter’s off-stump after the batsman was caught out by a delivery that kept low.
A similar delivery persuaded skipper Misbah to bring chief destroyer Umar Gul into the attack, though Kieswetter responded in fine style as he followed up a boundary over midwicket with a sensational straight six.
The Somerset man survived a run-out chance at the start of Cheema’s next set of six, but fell attempting to up the ante against Ajmal in the next - skying to long-on, where Shoaib Malik took a fine catch.
Pietersen responded by striking the off-spinner over midwicket for another boundary, but Ravi Bopara edged Cheema behind in the next over.
Hafeez’s re-introduction was greeted by Pietersen with another perfectly-placed boundary over midwicket.
However, Eoin Morgan was looking flustered and, after surviving when Umar missed a stumping chance, was run out by Misbah.
Pietersen broke the shackles when he inside-edged Shahid Afridi for four, but England lost another wicket as Ajmal found prodigious turn and bowled Jonny Bairstow, who was attempting to cut against the spin.
With England struggling for runs, Gul gave them a timely boost with a wayward leg-side delivery which yielded five wides.
Jos Buttler was trapped leg before by Ajmal attempting a sweep, but Samit Patel rotated the strike before launching Ajmal down the ground for six, which he followed up with a fortuitous inside-edged four.
He was stumped for 16 attempting to find the boundary again, but Pietersen responded by bringing up his half-century.
Pietersen found the boundary twice more - his final effort was his first innings six as he struck Cheema's full toss over midwicket - to lead England to a competitive total.
Pakistan started impressively, taking eight runs - four of which came via leg byes - off the first over, which was bowled by Steven Finn.
That changed off the first ball of the second over as Dernbach had Hafeez caught and bowled, though Zia responded with a six over cover off Finn.
England were then left rueing their back luck as Finn located Shafiq’s edge, only for the ball to evade Kieswetter and go for four.
England reduced the run-rate somewhat thereafter, but, having reached 45 for one after six overs, Pakistan were in a solid position.
Graeme Swann bowling to his favoured left-handers produced an instant result as he beat the edge of Zia, attempting to hit through midwicket, and trapped him in front for 23.
Replays suggested the ball had pitched outside leg stump, but England capitalised on their good fortune as Patel and Swann continued to put the squeeze on Pakistan.
Shafiq responded impressively, launching Broad for a straight four before inside-edging through fine-leg for another boundary.
But, with the momentum having seemingly swung, Buttler and Kieswetter combined to run out Shafiq for 34.
Misbah and Umar were impressive thereafter, though, as the former struck Patel for four through cover before Broad missed a run-out opportunity after a mix-up between the batsmen.
With the required run-rate at eight an over, Umar found a much-needed boundary in fortunate circumstances when, attempting a paddle sweep, he edged Finn over third man.
But Dernbach produced an excellent 18th over, which yielded just six runs, to leave Pakistan needing 17 from two overs.
That was followed up by an even better effort from Broad, who, having bowled two dot balls, found Umar’s edge as the batsman attempted a wild heave on 22, Swann holding his nerve to take the catch off long-off.
Poor fielding from Bairstow gave Misbah four but Broad delivered back-to-back dot balls, meaning Pakistan needed 13 off the last over with Afridi on strike.
Bairstow atoned for his error to run out Afridi with quick thinking, catching the batsman off guard by throwing to the striker’s end.
Dernbach then finished the job as, with six needed off the final ball, he bowled Misbah for a 32-ball 28 with a slower ball.