Cricket: Two-ton Kevin Pietersen ensures whitewash

Kevin Pietersen: ensured English whitewash. Picture: Getty
Kevin Pietersen: ensured English whitewash. Picture: Getty
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ALASTAIR Cook confirmed he would be staying on for the Twenty20 series after captaining England to a one-day series whitewash over Pakistan.

Kevin Pietersen’s second successive century, a career-best 130 off 153 balls, led England to a four-wicket win in the fourth and final one-day international in Dubai.

It came after Cook’s first failure of the series but, having registered two centuries and an 80 in the first three matches, Cook will now stay on as cover for a couple of minor injury worries in the squad.

“I’ve been asked to stay on,” Cook said. “It’s not often you get to hit the ball as well as I have in the last week and a half so it’s important to keep playing.”

Pietersen, without an ODI century for more than three years before his unbeaten 111 three days ago, repeated the dose for a career-best in another run chase under lights.

Cook’s failure immediately put England’s pursuit of 237 all out on the back foot but Pietersen appeared in control throughout his innings, which contained 12 fours and two sixes, as England got the job done with four balls to spare.

He established a scoring rate that kept England ahead of the game, even from a precarious 68 for four after 16 overs, to the extent that Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter’s fifth-wicket stand of 109 did not have to feature undue risks against Pakistan’s spinners.

The whitewash, England’s first against Pakistan for 25 years, was compensation of sorts for the 3-0 Test series drubbing these opponents inflicted on them.

Shortly after the victory the International Cricket Council confirmed England had moved ahead of Pakistan in the world rankings.

After Jade Dernbach’s four wickets for 45 runs restricted Pakistan, England lost Cook to the second ball of the innings, lbw to Junaid Khan after DRS overturned an initial not-out verdict to a quick and full ball.

Cook began with a square-cut for four first ball.

Jonathan Trott went to an attempted paddle-pull at Abdur Rehman which looped into the leg side for a simple catch.

Eoin Morgan was lbw sweeping at Saeed Ajmal and debutant Jos Buttler fell to the off-spinner for a second-ball duck – caught at short-leg.

Pietersen and Kieswetter kept their nerve, though, and demonstrated plenty of skill too against a spin-dominated attack on a used pitch.

Pietersen’s one significant scrape came when he had to resort to DRS to disprove another lbw verdict, this time on the basis that – albeit playing a hapless and uncomfortable sweep at Rehman – he had achieved the basic prerequisite of positioning his front pad outside the line of off-stump on impact.

Little went right, in fact, for Pakistan as their fielding let them down again – and England’s two South Africa-born batsmen swept and drove them to shreds.

After Kieswetter was run out, Pietersen muscled some crucial pulls too in a stand of 59 with Samit Patel until he was last out – chipping Ajmal to point with only two runs needed.

Asad Shafiq (65) and Azhar Ali (58) had earlier ensured Pakistan recovered from their own early setback, the dismissal of opener Mohammad Hafeez with just one run on the board after Misbah-ul-Haq had won the toss.

• Sri Lanka moved to second place in the Commonwealth Bank Series table after bowling India out for 238 in the 46th over to secure a 51-run victory at the Gabba.

Set 290 to win, India fell well short for the second time in three days, leaving Brisbane without a point and falling from first on the ladder to third in the tournament which also features hosts Australia.