Monday 26 June 2017

Cricket: Pakistan stunned by Morgan

Derek Pringle

It was time this ugly series was decorated with something eye-catching and Eoin Morgan duly delivered with a stunning hundred, his second in one-day internationals this summer.

Coming in at 104-4, the Dubliner, first with a migraine-affected Paul Collingwood, then with a stolid Tim Bresnan, pushed England's score up to 256-6, a competitive target on a pitch already used this season.

One doubt about Morgan was whether he could set a target as well as he chased one, but that is academic after yesterday. The Dubliner's bat speed, vision and execution meant there was scarcely a duff shot in an unbeaten innings that lasted 101 balls and contained eight fours and a six.

The clean way he strikes the ball is at odds with the way he chokes down on the bat. Morgan has developed his own attenuated method of getting the ball away off the bat face.

It certainly comes good when bowlers are trying to hit the blockhole, as they all were at the death. Two attempted yorkers from Saeed Ajmal in the final over, that most would have been happy to punch down the ground for singles, were hit for six and four to bring up his hundred.

His 93-run partnership with Collingwood was the meat of the innings, though his partner had to return to play his part after leaving the crease with a migraine at the end of the 15th over. After a quick cure in the dressing-room, he returned to play a blinder when Ian Bell, who played most of his innings with a runner after injuring his groin, was out.

Collingwood deserved a 50 but fell three short when he was bowled advancing down the pitch to Umar Gul.

There was a hint of reverse-swing for Gul but did not bend it as much as in the previous two games. Instead, it was Shoaib Akhtar who kept everyone but Morgan muzzled.

fantastic

Shoaib finished with 3-40, fantastic figures given that he bowled his overs either in the Powerplays or at the death. Jonathon Trott was Shoaib's first victim, bowled after the ball slanted into him and through the gate.

Andrew Strauss, who hit Abdul Razzaq out of the attack, followed soon after, edging a beauty that left him off the pitch.

England went into their shell, Bell and Collingwood soaking up balls and pressure until it became too much for the latter's headache. Undoubtedly hampered by his groin injury, Bell continued nurdling, a skiddy quicker ball from Afridi eventually bowling him.

That was the cue for Collingwood's return. Pakistan's reply began vigorously thanks to Kamran Akmal, before he was dismissed by Luke Wright for 41.

Graeme Swann then made Pakistan's task more difficult by taking three wickets and the tourists collapsed miserably under the lights from 63 without loss to 135 all out. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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