England revel in lofty status
Captain Paul Collingwood believes England’s back-to-back NatWest International T20 wins over Pakistan prove they can handle the pressure that comes with being world champions.
England wrapped up the two-match series 2-0 with a six-wicket success at the SWALEC Stadium tonight, sewn up with six overs to spare after Tim Bresnan, who took 3-10, spearheaded a fine bowling display that saw the tourists dismissed for just 89.
Pakistan continue to look like a team haunted by the off-field problems which have taken three of their squad members out of these matches and the five one-day internationals to come against England over the next two weeks.
Even so, Collingwood is wary of the threat within a talented Pakistan team, and is delighted his own players once again matched their impressively high standards.
“In this form of the game it can be tough to win consecutively,” he said. “It just takes one performance from the opposition to take it away from you.
“To have that World Cup, you can have added pressure on you as well. But the way we’ve played over the last two games, the boys are enjoying that added pressure.
“They (Pakistan) tried to come hard at us today - you could sense that was their approach - but we kept taking wickets and really applying the pressure.”
England have finished their Twenty20 campaign for 2010 on an appropriately high note, allowing Collingwood to reflect on a record-equalling seventh successive win.
“It’s a special achievement, and we obviously did it during the best time - which was during the World Cup,” he added.
“To continue with that form, even though we’ve lost a couple of players, I’m delighted in the response of the dressing room - and the bowlers as a unit are doing fantastically well.
“I think in the last seven games they haven’t conceded more than 148 runs, which is fantastic in the Twenty20 format.
“We are just doing a lot of things really well, and we still have a lot of intent with the bat as well. I hope that continues.
“It was exceptional again. I’m absolutely delighted with what was another strong performance.
“I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the bowlers again adapted to the conditions very well.”
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi had considerably less to smile about tonight.
“The way the guys played was irresponsible, immature,” he said. “It was very bad. We should take more responsibility.
“We were playing against England, the best team at the moment, so we should be mentally very strong. If we are trying to win the game then we must be more focused.”
He is nonetheless hoping Pakistan will do themselves justice in the one-day series, which will start in Durham on Friday.
“They [the fans] should support us, and one day we’ll give them a good result," he added.
“I have learned a lot of things from this England side. They’re very united; that’s what we are lacking.
“There is more pressure for us coming around the corner. We just need one win at this stage.”