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England sneak home to level series

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September 10, 2006 23:01 IST


England produced a Jekyll and Hyde performance before snatching a three-wicket victory in the fifth and final one-dayer against Pakistan in Edgbaston on Sunday to level the series at 2-2.

The home side, helped by the best of the conditions and by winning their first toss of the series, produced a fine display in the field to restrict Pakistan to 154 for nine, then batted wildly and erratically before regaining their poise to win with 19 overs to spare.

Only skipper Andrew Strauss, with a polished 35 off 41 balls, batted with any conviction in the top order during a dramatic run chase, while Ed Joyce, Kevin Pietersen and Chris Read all threw away their wickets.

Pakistan, who collapsed from 43 without loss to 72 for five, had some excuse for their poor total, with England's bowlers benefiting from some early swing and seam movement.

The home side, who crumbled from 102 for three to 118 for seven, had fewer mitigating circumstances before Michael Yardy (12 not out) and Sajid Mahmood (22 not out) restored some sanity.

Man of the match Mahmood, after earlier taking two for 24 off 10 overs, played some fine shots in his 25-ball knock, including three fours in a row to all but settle the game in the 30th over from Rana Naved.

"We had a bit of a chance when their seventh wicket went down, the pressure was on England but Yardy and Mahmood played very well," Inzamam-ul-Haq said during the presentations.

"The toss was very important."

"We made a bit of a mountain out of a molehill," rival captain Strauss said.

"But there is a lot of fight there and belief."

Pakistan had managed only nine boundaries in their entire innings. England matched that number by the seventh over of their reply, with seven of those fours going to Strauss.

He unfurled a string of fine shots as he rattled along at a run a ball. Joyce, though, after two boundaries of his own, shouldered arms to a straight ball from Mohammad Asif and lost his off stump.

England, who had gone down 5-1 in India and 5-0 at home against Sri Lanka in their previous one-day series, still looked in control, even after losing Ian Bell and Strauss to consecutive balls to make it 49 for three.

Strauss was brilliantly caught by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off quick bowler Rao Iftikhar and Bell, on two, over-reached to slice Asif to gully.

Pietersen, despite some eccentric shots, and Paul Collingwood put on 53 before Pietersen, having clattered 34 off 33 balls, sparked the loss of three wickets in six balls by slogging at Shahid Afridi's spin and missing a straight delivery.

Jamie Dalrymple then fell lbw to Afridi for a third-ball duck and Abdul Razzaq pinned Collingwood lbw for 22 in the next over. To make matters worse, wicketkeeper Read threw the bat at virtually every ball he received before hooking straight to square leg to make it 118 for seven.

Mahmood and Yardy, however, batted much more sensibly to settle the game.

Earlier Younis Khan top-scored with 47. No other Pakistan batsman got to 20, with the second-best contribution coming from 24 extras.

Their collapse began in the 13th over, three wickets falling in successive overs at a cost of eight runs. Read started the rot, flicking the ball cleverly through his legs and into the stumps to run out Imran Farhat.

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