Razzaq-inspired Pakistan level Twenty20 series
Pakistan's Abdul Razzaq plays a shot © AFP
Abdul Razzaq single-handedly changed the course of the match with a brilliant innings as Pakistan beat England by four wickets to level their two-match Twenty20 series 1-1 here on Saturday.
At the Dubai Sports City stadium, England scored 148-6 from their 20 overs after being put in by Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik, who was second time lucky with the toss.
In reply, Pakistan looked down and out after being reduced to 78-5 in 13 overs, mainly due to a superb bowling effort from Graeme Swann.
The spinner took 3-14 in his four overs, a haul which included the wickets of Umar Akmal (36), Shoaib Malik (13) and Shahid Afridi (8).
However, Razzaq smashed five sixes in his 46 not out in 18 balls, as Pakistan reached the target with one over to spare.
He first added 48 important runs for the sixth wicket with Fawad Alam, and then hit two sixes in the penultimate over of the match from debutant Ajmal Shahzad to seal the issue in favour of his team.
Malik was full of praise for Razzaq.
"He was just awesome. England set us a very good total. We didn't start off well, but Razzaq batted really well to get us this game. The way he has come back, I am just speechless and very happy about it," he said.
"We really needed this win after the series we had in Australia. This is a great start as we prepare to defend our title at this year's ICC World T20 Cup."
Collingwood was upbeat despite the loss, and said things looked good for the World T20 Cup, which will be played in April-May in the Caribbean Islands.
"We are improving every moment, I congratulate my boys for what they have been doing on the field for quite sometime. Our batting is looking especially stronger. There are some areas we need to work on, but we are definitely becoming a better T20 team," he said.
After being hit for a boundary off the very first ball in his international career, Shahzad picked up both the openers in his first over.
Imran Nazir was the first to go, trying to heave him over mid-wicket, but the top-edge flew to Tim Bresnan at third-man. Two balls later, Imran Farhat tried to pull a fullish length delivery, but only succeeded in giving a catch to Stuart Broad at mid on. Pakistan were 4-2 at that stage.
Earlier, in England's innings, Joe Denly failed once again and was the first batsman to be dismissed when he was clean bowled by Yasir Arafat in the fourth over after making just five.
But Denley's fall brought Kevin Pietersen to the wicket. Along with Jonathan Trott, Pietersen added 98 runs for the second wicket, before Trott was unfortunately run out in the 16th over for 39.
Pietersen batted well on a pitch that was playing slow. He smashed three huge sixes and four boundaries in his 40-ball stay at the crease. He also got a life when Shahid Afridi put down a tough chance off Umar Gul in the 13th over. Pietersen was on 45 then.
After both Trott and Pietersen were dismissed in successive overs, England promoted Friday's hero Euan Morgan and the hard-hitting Luke Wright, but a flurry of wickets saw them fall two runs short of 150.
Arafat was the most successful bowler for Pakistan, taking 3-32.
Afridi made his comeback to the Pakistan team after serving a two-match ban for ball tampering. The all-rounder, who is Pakistan's regular skipper in Twenty20, came in for Khalid Latif.
Shahzad made his international debut for England after seamer Ryan Sidebottom was ruled out with a thigh injury.
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