Sunday, September 5, 2010

Collingwood praises England focus

England's man-of-the-match Michael Yardy
England's man-of-the-match was Sussex's Michael Yardy

Paul Collingwood praised England for putting Pakistan's off-field troubles out of their mind as they easily won the first Twenty20 international.

The world champions in the game's shortest format stretched their winning streak to six in a five-wicket victory.

"It's been a tough week but we focused 100% on their cricket, and we enjoyed our win today," said Collingwood.

"We got our teeth right into it. We had a little hiccup with the bat but the bowlers were absolutely fantastic."

England only needed 127 to win after some brilliant bowling from spinners Graeme Swann (2-14) and Michael Yardy (1-21).

They slumped from 42-1 in the sixth over to 62-5 at half way, but Eoin Morgan (33) and man-of-the-match Yardy (35) added an unbroken 67 from 43 balls as England reached the winning post with 17 balls remaining.

Collingwood said: "I'm absolutely delighted. Our strategies seem to be working in the Twenty20 form of the game and Morgs and Yards put together a superb partnership."

Pakistan have had to deal with the ICC suspension of three of their players following newspaper allegations of a plot to bowl no-balls to order in an attempt to defraud illegal bookmakers during the Lord's Test.

A follow-up report in Sunday's News of the World claims a fourth Pakistani - unnamed for what it states are "legal reasons" - is being investigated by the ICC's anti-corruption unit on suspicion of match-fixing.

Their captain Shahid Afridi was content enough with his team's efforts in Cardiff.

He said: "The way my boys played, I am very happy. At one time it looked like we were going to win this game, but Morgan and Yardy played very well.

"We missed some opportunities, like catches and run-outs. So next time I hope we will avail these opportunities. In this kind of cricket, fielding is a main weapon if you want to win."

As for the latest allegations, Afridi was determined his team would not be put off their game.

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"We have to play cricket. After what has been going on for a week or 10 days, it's been very difficult.

"But this is my job and the coach's job, to lift the morale and keep the guys in high spirits."

Collingwood also said he had urged his team to concentrate on their day jobs.

"A lot has gone on this week in terms of strong decisions, and we just want the cricket to do the talking," he added.

"I'm happy that the guys responded well to what has been a difficult week."

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