Abu Dhabi: Alastair Cook scored a career best one-day total of 137 and paceman Steve Finn recorded his best ever ODI haul of 4-34 to help England trounce Pakistan by 130 runs on Monday in the first contest of a four-match series.
Cook's brilliant century as captain helped England score 260 for 7 in their 50 overs at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, while Finn's impressive haul and Samit Patel's 3-26 meant Pakistan was bowled out for 130 in 35 overs.
Finn, who never got a chance in England's three-test series whitewash, struck in his seventh and eighth balls to leave Pakistan's run chase in tatters. Mohammed Hafeez was adjudged lbw and the opener's appeal went in vain and Finn made it two in two when he had Asad Shafiq plumb in front.
Younus Khan looked good for a brief period before he nicked a Finn delivery to Craig Kieswetter, while Imran Farhat was similarly also caught behind off Finn and Pakistan were flailing at 40-4.
Cook brought Patel into the attack and the burly left-arm spinner picked up two quick wickets, accounting for skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and former skipper Shoaib Malik.
By the time Graeme Swann was introduced in the 22nd over, Pakistan was 72 for 6 and the team's fans were waiting for some heroics from Shahid Afridi. He duly slammed two fours off Patel, but the Pakistan star perished in the same over when he was caught by Swann for a 22-ball 28 — his team's top score.
With that, Pakistan's resistance ended and England finally got a grip on what has been a tough desert assignment.
The spade work had been done by Cook, whose 142-ball knock featured 14 boundaries and was only his third three-figure mark in 42 ODIs.
A confident England had looked set to reach the 300-mark at 188-2 but Saeed Ajmal, who claimed 24 wickets in the test series, applied the brakes with 5-43, his first 5-wicket haul in ODIs.
Afridi picked up two wickets in two balls earlier in the innings as England continued to struggle against the spinners.
Cook and Ravi Bopara starred in a 131-run stand for the third wicket after England won the toss and elected to bat. Cook and Kevin Pietersen put on 57 for the first wicket but the latter fell when he was outfoxed by an Afridi googly for 14.
Afridi, who is only playing in the one-day matches, then struck with his very next ball to leave Jonathan Trott groping forward as a delivery struck his off-stump.
However, Cook and Bopara settled down after the England skipper survived when on 30, thanks to the umpire review. Cook was given out lbw to Hafeez by Australian umpire Simon Taufel but the replays confirmed it was a bat-pad decision.
Cook completed his century with 11 fours and Bopara soon reached his 50, only to be dismissed immediately after when he rushed out to Ajmal and was stumped at the same score.
Eoin Morgan's poor run continued when he lasted for just eight balls before being trapped leg before by Ajmal.
The man-of-the-series in Pakistan's test rout of England soon picked up his third wicket when Craig Kieswetter top-edged the spinner for nine, with Cook left fighting at the other end.
Cook perished when he tried to sweep Ajmal and England's tormentor soon got his fifth wicket when he sent back Stuart Broad for one run.
While Cook bettered his previous best of 119 against Sri Lanka in Lords last year, Ajmal's first five-wicket haul bettered his ODI best of 4 for 33 at this very ground against New Zealand in 2009.
The second match of the series will be played in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, with two more ODIs to follow in Dubai.
Published Date: Feb 14, 2012 12:33 am | Updated Date: Feb 14, 2012 12:33 am