England v Pakistan, 5th ODI, Southampton
Pakistan Tour Ends with One-day Decider22-Sep-2010 02:31:00 GMT
Southampton: Pakistan's scandal-filled tour of England reaches its conclusion at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday with the deciding match of a closely fought one-day series that has been overshadowed by fresh fixing claims against both teams.
Pakistan lost the opening two matches of the five-game series but drew level thanks to a 38-run victory at Lord's on Monday, and momentum was firmly behind the tourists.
"I've just told the players the best answer to all of what's gone on is to play to your potential, which they have done," Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said.
Relations between the countries have hit a new low after Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt accused England's players of deliberately losing the third one-dayer at The Oval on Friday.
Despite England's outrage and threats of legal action against Butt, the series continued at Lord's under a cloud of controversy and with clear tension between the teams.
Wahab Riaz, one of four Pakistan players to have been questioned by police earlier in the tour over allegations of spot fixing, and England batsman Jonathan Trott were involved in an altercation in the nets before the match.
The England and Wales Cricket Board initially said there had simply been an exchange of words but Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has since claimed Trott said to Riaz "you are a match fixer, what you are doing, you people have killed test cricket." The pair was also reported to have clashed physically.
There was no bad blood on the pitch but Pakistan came through the match stronger as England, chasing 266 to win, collapsed to 227 all out from 113 without loss.
England captain Andrew Strauss is expecting the fifth one-dayer to be played in calmer conditions.
"It is going to be harder than Monday's game, because it was so new and raw and there was a lot of emotion around," he said.
Younis will ask for more of the same from his young side, which seems to have been galvanized by the difficult end to the tour.
"I'm so pleased the boys have kept their cool. I'm really proud of them," he said.
The tour has been dogged by scandal ever since three players -- Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer -- were implicated in spot-fixing allegations following a newspaper sting during the fourth test at Lord's.
The trio was charged and suspended under the ICC's anti-corruption code and questioned by police before returning to Pakistan. Riaz was also interviewed by Scotland Yard but released without charge.
Then came fresh corruption allegations on Saturday when an investigation was opened by the International Cricket Council following claims the scoring in Pakistan's innings in Friday's one-dayer was prearranged.
Ijaz Butt believes there is "definitely a conspiracy against Pakistan cricket" and has threatened to sue those behind it.
Afridi said as much on Tuesday and praised the way his team has finished the tour under the circumstances.
"Plans are there and behind the scenes people are trying to finish off this team," Afridi said.
"But as a nation, we always rise to such occasions and handle such pressures."
Saeed, who on Tuesday denied reports he resigned as team manager, said fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will be fit to play at the Rose Bowl despite a recent side injury.
England, on the other hand, seem jaded at the end of a long and arduous summer and it will surely be a relief to get this final match out of the way, whatever the result. England have dominated five series across three formats this season but a chaotic and controversial end would hardly be the best preparation ahead of a challenging winter in Australia. England will want to end on a positive note, but will be even more desperate to move on as quickly as possible once it is all over.
England, still looking to complete a clean sweep of series victories in all formats this summer, could recall one-day specialist Luke Wright after he was dropped for Paul Collingwood on Monday.
England: Andrew Strauss (capt), Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Paul Collingwood, Steven Finn, Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Ravi Bopara, Steve Davies (WK), Luke Wright, Michael Yardy, Ian Bell
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Abdul Razzaq, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Yousuf, Saeed Ajmal, Shahzaib Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz
Pitch and conditions
The Rose Bowl had a reputation as a seamer's paradise in its early years, but the pitch has settled down considerably since then. The last ODI at the ground, between England and Australia in June, was a reasonably high-scoring affair featuring an Eoin Morgan ton and some tap for the spinners on both sides. It being late September and all - temperatures are likely to be on the low side once again.
Stats and trivia
- Andrew Strauss has been in top form this summer, with 1,122 international runs since Bangladesh visited in May. While his Test form has been reasonable, Strauss's transformation into an attacking limited-overs opener has been remarkable, and he's scored 781 runs in 13 games, including two hundreds and a top score of 154. He's also hit 12 of his 30 international sixes this summer.
- If Pakistan bowl under lights, Umar Gul will surely be their most potent weapon. He has 45 wickets in the second innings of day/night ODIs at 21.20 as compared to his career average of 26.32. He now averages 17.92 in ODIs against England.
- Despite Gul's night-time prowess, Pakistan will have to overcome a statistical trend if they are to win bowling second at the Rose Bowl. Three of the four day/night ODIs played there have been won by the side batting second, including Pakistan on their last visit in 2006.
Wednesday September 22, 2010 (day/night)
Start time 14:30 local (13:30 GMT)