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Davies Stars As England Beat Pakistan In First ODI

Chester-Le-Street (United Kingdom): England cruised to a 24-run win over embattled Pakistan thanks to a tempo-setting display from Steve Davies in the first match of the one-day international series at the Riverside. Davies was drafted
PTI September 11, 2010 9:32 IST
PTI
Chester-Le-Street (United Kingdom): England cruised to a 24-run win over embattled Pakistan thanks to a tempo-setting display from Steve Davies in the first match of the one-day international series at the Riverside.

Davies was drafted into the England side in place of wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter and he seized the opportunity to cement his place at the top of the order with 13 fours in a devastating innings of 87 from 67 balls.  

Umar Gul and debutant Mohammad Irfan bore the brunt of Davies's onslaught as England reached 274 for six from a rain-reduced 41 overs after a two-hour delay caused by a wet outfield.  

Jonathan Trott weighed in with 69 from 78 balls and captain Andrew Strauss hit 41, while only off-spinner Saeed Ajmal managed to put England under pressure as he took four for 58.  

Pakistan never seriously threatened to chase down that target as England's bowlers kept the tourists on a tight leash, with Kamran Akmal's 53 and a quick-fire 43 from Umar Akmal in their total of 250-9.  

In the end, Pakistan could be relatively satisfied that they put up a decent fight after so many abject defeats on their nightmare tour.  

Any hopes the Pakistan team had of avoiding further controversy after a scandal-scarred tour were dashed on the morning of the match when it emerged that fast bowler Wahab Riaz will be interviewed by police next week in the course of their spot-fixing inquiries.  

That revelation came on the day Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer flew home with their reputations damaged by the betting scam allegations.  

The three players have been charged and suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) under the world governing body's anti-corruption code following newspaper claims that Asif and Aamer bowled no-balls deliberately on Butt's instructions in the fourth Test against England at Lord's last month.  

England were in no mood to show any mercy and Davies and Strauss put on 78 in under 12 overs.  

Strauss immediately hit Irfan out of the attack, with three fours in the 7ft left-armer's solitary over of his new-ball spell, as Pakistan's decision to bowl first back-fired.  

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi dropped a sharp head-high chance at cover off Mohammad Hafeez to reprieve Davies on 21 before Ajmal finally provided the breakthrough when he bowled Strauss as he attempted an ambitious sweep.  

England smashed 34 runs in four overs during a ferocious display of power-play hitting that was only curbed when Paul Collingwood swept Ajmal straight to deep square-leg.  

Trott and Ravi Bopara had kept England ticking over well enough as 85 runs came in the final 10 overs to set a challenging target.  

A reply of substance was hugely important to Pakistan's self-belief for the remainder of the series, and openers Kamran Akmal and Hafeez provided a solid start.  

But Strauss's pace attack dried up the boundaries in the power-play spells, with spinners Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy also proving effective.  

Swann delivered a wicket in his first over when Hafeez's mistimed sweep was well-held by a tumbling Tim Bresnan at deep square-leg to end a stand of 62.  

With Mohammad Yousuf also soon gone lbw to Yardy, Pakistan were falling behind the rate.  

Swann and Yardy might both have had Kamran Akmal in the 30s, had half-chances been taken by Strauss and then Trott.  

When the wicketkeeper-batsman did hole out at long-on off Swann, Umar Akmal replaced his older brother and kept Pakistan in contention in company with Fawad Alam, but when those two departed the game was up. AFP