Saturday, 18 February 2012 23:47
DUBAI: Kevin Pietersen hit his eighth one-day hundred while Alastair Cook missed a third consecutive century as England crushed Pakistan by nine wickets in the third day-night match on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Pietersen notched an unbeaten 98-ball 111 while opening partner Cook hit 80 to help their team overhaul a modest 223-run target set by Pakistan with 12.4 overs to spare at Dubai Stadium.
The victory gave England an unassailable 3-0 win in the series, with the fourth and final match to come here on Tuesday.
Pietersen, whose last hundred came against India at Cuttack in November 2008, hit his 10th boundary to bring up the win.
Pietersen, who also hit two sixes, crossed the 4,000 one-day run mark when he reached 57, becoming the seventh England batsman to reach the milestone.
He pushed paceman Aizaz Cheema towards square-leg for two to reach his hundred off 93 balls, his first in 36 innings.
Cook, who hit a career-best 137 and then 102 in the first two matches, was shaping well for his third century but fell when he was caught behind off spinner Saeed Ajmal after a fluent 98-ball knock, hitting six boundaries and a six.
Pakistan's bowlers looked helpless against some impressive batting by Cook and Pietersen who improved on the previous best opening stand of 147 against Pakistan, set by Michael Atherton and Robin Smith in Karachi in the 1996 World Cup.
Cook fell with 53 still needed before Eoin Morgan (24 not out) helped Pietersen see off the target.
Cook said keeping Pakistan to 222 was fantastic.
"It's great to win the series," said Cook, who took over in May last year. "Keeping Pakistan to 222 on this pitch was fantastic and our bowlers were outstanding. That total was below par."
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq was disappointed with his team's efforts.
"Credit to England, they bowled well," said Misbah, who lost his first one-day series after four wins. "England's bowlers pressurised us and we lost wickets regularly."
Earlier, Shahid Afridi hit a 55-ball 51 while Umar Akmal scored a 92-ball 50 during their 79-run sixth wicket stand which lifted Pakistan from a precarious 97-5 after Misbah-ul Haq won the toss and chose to bat.
Pakistan lost Azhar Ali (five), Mohammad Hafeez (29) and Misbah (one) in the space of just two runs.
Two of these wickets went to paceman Stuart Broad, who finished with 3-42, while the impressive Steven Finn added Hafeez to his early breakthrough of Imran Farhat (nine) in this pace-dominated period.
Finn, who took four wickets in both of the first two matches after sitting out the Test series, finished with 3-24 off 10 overs.
Afridi and Umar repaired the innings, with Afridi hitting three boundaries and a six.
Broad returned for his second spell to dismiss Umar, caught by Samit Patel after hitting just one boundary.
Afridi followed four runs later when he failed to connect properly with a big drive off paceman James Anderson who finished with 2-52.
Pakistan, who made two changes from the second one-dayer, were forced to leave out experienced batsman Younis Khan who was suffering from a fever.
Asad Shafiq (18) added 46 for the fifth wicket with Umar before he was run out. Umar Gul made 27 not out to give some late momentum to the innings.
Both teams will also play three Twenty20 internationals in Dubai (February 23 and 25) and Abu Dhabi (February 27).
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012