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IT'S A KNOCKOUT

by maxbenson 18. February 2012 18:12

@sofa_maxb

The start of a new era on The Sofa heralded the same old story on the field as England dismantled Pakistan by nine wickets to complete a notable series win with a game to spare.

It really is Groundhog Day as the only thing captain Alastair Cook did wrong in Dubai today was lose the toss. His 80 from 98 balls was every bit as composed as his centuries in the first two ODIs, and it set England on their way to a massacre of a series clincher.

Unexpectedly, it was the much-maligned Kevin Pietersen who showed the staying power at the top of the order to make his first one day century since November 2008 and guide his side home with more than 12 overs to spare.

Despite continuing to look downright awkward in the early stages of his innings, Pietersen took advantage of anything loose to remind everyone of the sheer talent he possesses. Forget the bravado and arrogance – this boy is still a class act.

Although batting first in more favourable conditions, it seemed for Pakistan that Shahid Afridi or Umar Akmal would have to come good and, in the event, they both did as the former struck a typically rapid 51 before falling to Jimmy Anderson.

Akmal has flattered to deceive so far in this series – not least in his makeshift position behind the stumps – but he dug in when necessary to compile a hard-fought 50, including an uncharacteristically solitary boundary.

But it was Steven Finn who continued to prove his worth as a genuine international bowler. Opening once more, the Watford-born giant again outshone Anderson, taking 3/24 from his ten overs to limit Pakistan to what proved to be a hopelessly low score.

Stuart Broad and Anderson also took five between them as England’s pace battalion made light work of a supposedly unhelpful wicket.

The same can’t be said of the hosts as Umar Gul (0/59) and Aizaz Cheema (0/40) toiled under the ‘ring of fire’ floodlights of the Dubai International Cricket Ground.

Unfortunately for Pakistan, their pack of heavily-relied on spinners also failed to make an impact. Saeed Ajmal kept things tight and took the only wicket, but Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez were unable to impart any semblance of pressure as England made hay.

Who would have predicted a Pakistan whitewash in the Test series and an England whitewash in the one day series? Not us supposed experts on the Sofa, and we'd wager no one else, either.

Still, one game to go until England complete that feat, so join us on Tuesday for the fourth and final ODI live from 10.45am GMT.

*Test Match Sofa will be live for ball-by-ball coverage of the fourth one day international between Pakistan and England from 10.45am GMT on Tuesday 21st February.

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