England’s bowlers kept their nerve in the final overs to pull off a sensational five-run win over Pakistan in the third and final Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi on Monday to take the series 2-1.
Set 130 to win, Pakistan were going along nicely at 107-4 with 23 needed off the last three overs and 17 off the remaining two, but Stuart Broad and Jade Dernbach did not shrink from the challenge and pulled off the win in the final over.
Broad dismissed a well-set Umar Akmal (22) off the third ball of the penultimate over and gave away just four runs, leaving Dernbach to defend 13 in the last, which he did successfully, removing Misbah-ul-Haq (28) off the final delivery.
Dernbach finished with 2-24 and most importantly gave the World Twenty20 champions an unexpected win.
Pakistan won the first match by eight runs, while England won the second by 38 runs — both played in Dubai.
Pakistan had lost opener Mohammad Hafeez for a second duck of the series, but Awais Zia (23) and Shafiq added 40 for the second wicket, before Zia was trapped leg before by Graeme Swann and Shafiq was run out.
Captain Misbah and Akmal added 37 for the fourth wicket and when it looked as if that would help Pakistan cross the line, England pulled back with remarkable determination.
With 13 needed off the final over, Shahid Afridi took a couple before he was run out while taking a second off the next. The next three balls produced singles and a wide, and with six needed off the final ball, Misbah was bowled.
Broad was full of praise for the bowlers.
“It was a very good win,” Broad said. “[Kevin] Pietersen played a good knock and then the bowlers showed a lot of character to pull off the win, it was remarkable.”
Despite being lost for words, Misbah gave credit to England.
“What can I say,” a visibly upset Misbah said. “It is really disappointing not to have won this match. It was a getable target and we needed 23 off the last three, but we failed, we are responsible for this defeat.”
Earlier, off-spinner Saeed Ajmal finished with 4-23 — his third four-wicket haul in the shortest form of the game — to restrict England to a modest 129-6 after they won the toss and batted.
Ajmal, who destroyed England in the preceding three-Test series with 24 wickets to help Pakistan to a 3-0 rout, put the brakes on his rivals’ progress.
Opener Pietersen top scored with 62 not out, keeping one end intact during his 52-ball knock for his seventh Twenty20 half-century. He hit six boundaries and a six off the last ball of the innings.
Ajmal provided Pakistan with the breakthrough after England raced to 29 by the fifth over, dismissing Craig Kieswetter (17) off a lofted shot to long-on where Shoaib Malik took the catch.
Kieswetter had hit a four and six off Pakistan paceman Umar Gul in the third over.
Pakistan had Ravi Bopara caught behind off paceman Aizaz Cheema for 1 and Eoin Morgan run out for 9, before Ajmal accounted for Jonny Bairstow (3), Jos Butler (7) and Samit Patel (16).
The match ended England’s long tour of the United Arab Emirates, where they lost the Tests, but won the one-day international series 4-0.