EOIN MORGAN’S second Rose Bowl hundred of the summer helped England clinch the troubled NatWest Series 3-2 with a landslide 121-run victory over Pakistan.
Thanks largely to Morgan, England recovered their composure after the ceaseless controversies of the past three weeks to halt Pakistan’s fightback from 2-0 down.
They therefore achieved their ambition of six consecutive series victories, across all formats this summer, despite the unwanted and at times all-consuming distractions of spot-fixing crises which have dominated Pakistan’s limited-overs campaign.
The tourists began their chase of 256 for six with a hectic opening stand but faltered alarmingly under lights as Stuart Broad and then Graeme Swann (three for 26) each put themselves on a hat-trick and all 10 wickets fell for 72 runs in an anti-climactic 135 all out in 37 overs.
But it was Morgan’s unbeaten 107 – back at the scene of his match-winning hundred against Australia in June – which was the main reason for England’s success.
Pakistan by contrast will have little to smile about as they board the plane back home this morning, after an arduous and hugely stressful three-month tour. Morgan and Paul Collingwood shared a fifth-wicket stand of 93, after Shoaib Akhtar (three for 40) had put England in an awkward spot in front of a noisy and partisan crowd. Collingwood’s innings was interrupted by a migraine, and Ian Bell needed a runner because of an apparent groin strain.
But Morgan was in rude health as he demonstrated his limited-overs prowess in a 97-ball century containing eight fours and a six.
Andrew Strauss and Steve Davies made an encouraging start for England to a match which had clearly caught the public’s imagination, against the backdrop of ill-feeling and series deadlock.
But after England had won an important toss on a glorious afternoon, Mohammad Hafeez broke an opening stand of 31 in the sixth over when Davies went down the pitch, missed an off-break and was stumped.
Veteran Shoaib was cranking up the pace like someone with several points to prove – and in an atmosphere verging on the poisonous, he made short work of Jonathan Trott.
After Strauss’ wicket fell, Collingwood had to retire unwell, after scoring five, and it therefore fell to Bell and Morgan to dig in.
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