Pietersen hundred seals series
Kevin Pietersen struck his first one-day international century in over three years as England sealed a series success against Pakistan courtesy of a comprehensive nine-wicket victory.
Following their 3-0 defeat in the Tests, the tourists had a point to prove in the four-match 50-over rubber and, having secured 130- and 20-run victories in Abu Dhabi, headed to Dubai desperate to finish the job.
They managed that thanks, in the main, to skipper Alastair Cook - who continued his remarkable series by adding 80 to his centuries in the opening two games - and Pietersen, who finished on 111 not out.
Cook fell just 20 runs short of becoming the first England batsman to register three successive ODI centuries; he would have joined Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar, Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers in achieving the feat.
But Pietersen’s hundred - his first in ODIs since registering the same score as today against India in 2008 - was perhaps more important given his recent lean spell.
There were some moments of luck for the right-hander - he was dropped on 45 by Azhar Ali - but his brilliant display undoubtedly deserved the rewards it reaped.
As much as the individual efforts were impressive, it is perhaps the 170-run partnership - the highest by an England opening pair against Pakistan - between Pietersen and Cook that will have pleased team director Andy Flower most.
In the build-up to the game, Pietersen revealed that Flower had pinpointed his players' ability to "dovetail" as a key factor in achieving success.
He will, therefore, have enjoyed watching two very different batsman - Pietersen’s front-foot, aggressive demeanour is in stark contrast to Cook’s back-foot punchy approach - yield similar results.
Flower, though, will not overlook England’s efforts in the field as well as their exciting combination at the top of the order.
Throughout this series, both in the Tests and ODIs, England have prospered in that area and today was no different.
Steven Finn continued his fine tour with another three wickets - he now has 11 in three games - while Stuart Broad matched that performance.
James Anderson picked up 2-52, with the tourists’ efforts being rounded off by a couple of run-outs as they dismissed Pakistan - for whom Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi hit fifties - for 222.
That proved insufficient as England emerged victorious with with 12.4 overs to spare, Pietersen an unbeaten centurion and Eoin Morgan, promoted to three, finishing on 24 not out.
Starting as they intended to go on, England got off to a flying start when Finn found Imran Farhat’s edge to provide Craig Kieswetter with a simple catch.
Broad’s introduction, at the expense of Anderson, initially signalled frustration for the tourists as he had Mohammad Hafeez caught at point off a no-ball, in an over that went for 16.
However, his mood lifted when, soon after, Azhar - on five - feathered through to Kieswetter.
Things got even better when Finn trapped the dangerous-looking Hafeez in front for a 28-ball 29 before Broad located Misbah-ul-Haq’s edge, Graeme Swann doing the rest at first slip.
Umar responded with a fine strike over cover as he and Asad Shafiq mixed fine running with the odd boundary. But, with the 50-run alliance approaching, Cook and Kieswetter combined to run out the latter.
Guilty of ball-watching, Shafiq was sent back by Umar and, despite making his ground, had to depart for 18 due to his bat being in the air.
Umar was dropped by Kieswetter off Broad, while, at the other end, Afridi signalled his intent by launching Swann down the ground for six.
Lofty boundaries interspersed with plays and misses followed as the enigmatic all-rounder and Umar reached their half-centuries in quick succession.
The latter could not add any more runs, though, as he clipped Broad to midwicket, where Samit Patel took a fine one-handed catch.
Afridi was bowled by Anderson - who later repeated the trick to remove Saeed Ajmal - as England eventually dismissed the designated hosts for 222, Aizaz Cheema being run out by Finn to herald the end.
In reply, England’s openers were quickly into their stride as they traded boundaries.
Pietersen was fortunate to top-edge over wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal for another four, with Pakistan’s frustration not helped by Umar Gul bowling three no-balls in an over.
Cook punished the second with a free-hit four, and it was soon apparent that Gul had again overstepped, allowing the left-hander to help himself to a maximum over midwicket off the next.
Pietersen brought up another half-century stand with Cook - their third in as many matches - with a glorious sweep over square-leg off Hafeez.
A Cook late cut heralded another boundary before Pietersen launched Afridi down the ground for six.
After the 100-run alliance came around, the latter enjoyed some good fortune during the bowling powerplay, dropped on the pull by Azhar off Cheema at deep square-leg.
Cook reached his half-century with a nudge to leg and Pietersen joined him at the landmark soon after with a clever scoop-swept two.
Pietersen moved past 4,000 ODI runs in emphatic style, launching an enormous six down the ground off Hafeez.
That signalled increased dominance from the right-hander, while strike rotation remained his partner’s focus as the 150-run stand was brought up.
With the score on 170, Cook nicked Ajmal behind and England surprisingly sent in Morgan, who did not take long to strike the off-spinner over midwicket for six.
After Pietersen moved into the nineties with a scorching four through cover, Morgan was dropped by Adnan off Ajmal.
England took the batting powerplay in the 33rd over, with Pietersen reaching three figures, from 93 balls, soon after courtesy of a two through square-leg.
Attentions then turned to finishing the job and, after Morgan followed up his partner’s pulled four with two boundaries of his own, Pietersen did just that to cap an eighth 50-over ton and seal England's first series victory in Asia since 2007.