Cook eyes series success
Alastair Cook made history today as the only England captain to hit back-to-back one-day international hundreds.
Yet he relegated his own performance, adding 102 to his career-best 137 two days ago, below that of his team as the tourists hunted as a pack to beat Pakistan by 20 runs and go 2-0 up with two to play.
Cook again underpinned England and again had Ravi Bopara, who hit his second successive fifty, for support, in a total of 250 for four.
Then tigerish fielding, and fine bowling from Steven Finn - who returned the same figures as two days ago, 4-34 - pegged Pakistan to 230 all out in 49 overs.
“To score two hundreds in a row doesn’t happen very often in any form of cricket,” said Cook. “Obviously I’m delighted and, with a little bit of luck along the way, thankfully I made it count.
“But you’re not quite so bothered about your own batting as captain, because you’re thinking about the team."
Most rewarding for him was that England followed up Monday’s victory, also at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, to put themselves on course for a series victory which will make up in small part for their Test defeat against Pakistan.
“We’ve been saying all along you don’t become bad players overnight, so it’s important when you do get a little bit of a run you cash in,” he said.
“I’m delighted I managed to do that.
“It’s nice to go 2-0 up in a four-match series. We will enjoy tonight - you’ve got to celebrate the wins - and hopefully we can go back to Dubai and win the series.
“I thought the way we handled the pressure as a side - with (Shahid) Afridi in, they were in the game because seven-an-over is nothing - held our nerve and stayed calm was a big difference from what we have done.
“Everyone contributed to a really good team performance, a really good win. Everyone can go home tonight and feel they’ve contributed to an England win.”
Cook reserved particular praise for Finn.
“Steven Finn was outstanding,” added Cook. “We knew that the early overs of Pakistan’s chase was the easiest time to bat and I think Finn's first five overs went for seven or eight runs and that allowed us to get ahead of the game.
“There was some outstanding bowling from our three seamers (Finn, Stuart Broad and James Anderson) in those last six or seven overs.”
Pakistan started impressively in pursuit of 251, but Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat departing in quick succession signalled a change as wickets fell at regular intervals thereafter.
That will have undoubtedly frustrated Misbah-ul-Haq, though the designated hosts’ captain felt his side’s fielding was the main let-down.
“I think the batsman realised their duties today, especially at the top of the order,” he said. “They played well and I think the main difference (between the two sides) was the fielding.
“It’s difficult batting against the new ball, especially under the lights so it is an advantage for the side bowling in the evening.
“I think the boys at the top played really well, but we just keep on losing wickets at the wrong times, which was the main reason for not scoring runs.”
Despite the loss leaving Pakistan in a difficult position, Misbah is confident his men can earn a draw from the series.
“This team can do anything the way they are playing,” he added.
“They can come back at any time - I really believe in my team.”