England host Pakistan in ODI after threatening legal action over comments about match-fixing by PCB chairman Ijaz Butt.
|Razzaq hits James Anderson for six as part of his 44 runs off just 20 balls to put Pakistan out of reach [AFP]|
Pakistan recovered from a terrible start to the day off the pitch to complete a spirited 38-run victory in the fourth one-day international against England at Lord’s.
The day began with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) threatening legal action against their Pakistan cricket chief Ijaz Butt following provocative comments about Friday’s third match at the Oval which the tourists won by 23 runs.
England captain Andrew Strauss said his team had “strong misgivings” about taking the field after Butt told a television channel there had been “loud and clear talk in bookies’ circles that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose (Friday’s) match”.
Match referee Jeff Crowe was then forced to intervene after a dispute in the nets between England batsman Jonathan Trott and Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz.
Against this unpromising background, an excellent match unfolded on a warm autumnal afternoon watched by an appreciative crowd.
It ended under floodlights as Pakistan squared the five-match series 2-2 with one game remaining in Southampton on Wednesday.
The tour was, however, already irretrievably blighted by the suspensions of Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and teammates Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif after last month’s fourth Test at Lord’s.
The bans followed a police investigation into newspaper reports they had deliberately arranged for no-balls to be delivered during England’s only innings.
Under one-day captain Shahid Afridi, Pakistan bounced back from defeat in the first two 50-over internationals to win at the Oval only to learn the International Cricket Council (ICC) had opened an investigation into the scoring pattern during their innings on Friday.
On Monday they completed a 38-run win with 3.5 overs to spare.
Pakistan reached 265 for seven due primarily to Abdul Razzaq, who hit 44 not out from 20 balls including 40 off the last 10.
The Pakistanis scored 83 from the final 10 overs.
Strauss put his concerns to one side with 68 from 72 deliveries, cutting and carving the ball through the off-side with familiar assurance on his home ground in an opening partnership of 113 with Steve Davis, who fell one short of his fifty.
He struck Shoaib Akhtar’s first delivery of the innings to the boundary and reached his half-century off as many balls before Akhtar got his revenge when the left-hander cut a wide delivery tamely to Fawad Alam at backward point.
Pakistan fought back with the wickets of Trott (4), Paul Collingwood (4) and Ian Bell (27).
Bell, who missed the Test series with an ankle injury, replaced Ravi Bopara.
Akhtar, now 35, responded to the situation and the increasingly vocal support of the Pakistan fans with a mixture of express deliveries and clever changes of pace to finish with three for 59 from his 10 overs.
Umar Gul, Pakistan’s hero at the Oval, bowled with equal fervour at the Pavilion end for figures off four for 32 from 8.1 overs.
England’s last five wickets fell for 30 runs off as many deliveries.