Collingwood hails faultless England
Captain Paul Collingwood toasted England’s complete performance in their must-win match against Pakistan in the ICC World Twenty20.
Collingwood’s team responded to their shock loss to minnows Holland by thrashing Pakistan by 48 runs at The Oval to book their place in the Super Eights stage of the tournament.
Kevin Pietersen passed a late fitness test on his troublesome Achilles to hit 58, while Luke Wright’s rapid 34 off just 16 deliveries set the platform for a challenging score of 185 for five.
Three wickets inside the powerplay period then averted any chance of Younus Khan’s team eliminating England from their own competition.
“I am still convinced Friday night was meant to happen and what we needed to do we went out and did here,” said Collingwood. “We got it 100% right.
“Friday was a massive blow to us, so it was fair to say we were under quite a lot of pressure to put in a performance like that.
“That performance is what we needed. We showed a lot of character tonight. From ball one we proved how much we wanted it and had them under pressure.
“People put their hands up and all 11 can be very proud of themselves. They showed how brave they are as blokes. And I am now more excited than I was before the Netherlands game.”
Pietersen was plunged into the Group B encounter after getting the all-clear earlier in the day, although Collingwood insisted no chances would be taken with their star batsman in an Ashes summer.
“He ticked all the boxes and was desperate to play,” said Collingwood. “The medical staff had a good look at him and he is not going to be risked at all this summer, it’s as simple as that.”
Pietersen admitted he was desperate to prove his fitness and play in such a crucial game, when defeat would have ended England’s participation in the competition.
Ruled out of the Holland defeat with an Achilles injury, he returned to anchor the England innings, hitting five fours and three sixes off just 38 balls.
“It was a huge match,” he said. “If we didn’t win we were out and that’s not nice.
“It was a huge evening; I was desperate to play. I’ve never had an injury that has kept me out, which has been hard to deal with.
“I reckon I’m about 70% fit. Hopefully that is the last of it now because I just love playing. I am happy to play with a bunch of boys who played like they did this evening.”
Wright, named man of the match after removing Shoaib Malik and claiming two catches to go with his cameo with the bat, said: “I thought Kevin Pietersen would be standing here the way he batted.
“It was a tough day (against Holland) - we had a chat later on. It’s how you bounce back from these things.”
Pakistan captain Younus top-scored with an unbeaten 46 off 31 balls and later rued his side's shoddy display in the field, during which they dropped four catches and made countless fumbles.
“I think 160 was chaseable,” he said. “The big worry for us at the moment is fielding. We have missed chances and run-outs, which probably gave them 20-25 runs.
“Maybe our guys are not fielding well because they are under pressure. Everybody in the world is talking about our fielding, but we are always like that in international cricket.”
Pakistan must now inflict a heavy defeat on Holland to join England in the latter stages, and are bound to shake up their side.
“We will have to do it because if we don’t we will be out of the competition,” said Younus. “Hopefully the senior guys will come forward and do a job for our team; it’s the only chance we have.”
However, he attempted to retain Twenty20’s original spirit in reflecting on his side’s immediate future.
“It’s international cricket but it is only a fun game,” he said. “It will be sad for us if we are not in the Super Eights but it’s not a disaster.
“Twenty20 cricket is all about entertaining the crowd; it’s all about fun.”