Pietersen guides England to series whitewash
Kevin Pietersen's highest score in one-day internationals sealed a series whitewash for England over Pakistan, as the tourists clinched the fourth ODI by four wickets on Tuesday.
Pietersen had signalled his intent to take a lead from Alastair Cook after the skipper scored back-to-back centuries in the first two matches, and he duly followed up with back-to-back tons of his own to ensure that England responded to their Test series disappointment in the strongest possible fashion.
Pietersen struck 130 from 153 balls as England chased down a target of 238 with four balls to spare, passing his previous best of 116 against South Africa at Centurion near the beginning of his international career in early 2005.
It was a remarkable knock from Pietersen which almost single-handedly allowed England to achieve a moderate target, although he received solid support from Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel after England had collapsed to 68 for four.
Alastair Cook was out second ball of the reply, and after Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan had both thrown away decent starts, Jos Buttler was caught bat and pad for a second and ball duck to leave England in all sorts of trouble.
However Kieswetter, under pressure after a lean series with the bat and an ordinary one with the gloves, answered the call with a classy 43 to give Pietersen the support he needed and revive the England chase.
Pietersen did have a scare on 80 when he was adjudged lbw by umpire Zameer Haider, but a review showed that Abdur Rehman's delivery had hit the batsman outside the line of off stump as he attempted an ill-advised paddle to leg.
Pietersen made the most of the reprieve, putting on a century stand with Kieswetter and going to three figures in 136 balls, before hitting out to bring the required run rate well under control.
Kieswetter was run out in the 40th over to keep Pakistan's hopes alive, but Samit Patel showed an equally level head as a replacement for Kieswetter, farming the strike to Pietersen in a cool 17 not out.
Pietersen was unable to see England home though, deceived by Saeed Ajmal's doosra to be caught at point as he attempted a big shot to seal the deal with one over remaining.
However just two runs were required for victory, which Patel and Tim Bresnan knocked off without any fuss.
Pakistan were left to regret their inability to take advantage of a strong platform, as a much-changed England side fought back to limit them to 237 all out.
Half-centuries from Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq had set the 'hosts' up for a formidable total, but their dismissals at a key time left plenty for the lower order to do and Pakistan lost seven wickets for the addition of just 102 runs in the last 20 overs of the innings.
England named two debutants in the side as Pakistan won the toss and batted first - Buttler and Danny Briggs were brought into the side for their first matches, while there were recalls for all-rounder Bresnan and fast bowler Jade Dernbach.
Stuart Broad, Ravi Bopara, Graeme Swann and James Anderson were all given a rest with the series sewn up at three-nil.
Dernbach had been forced to watch on from the sidelines but made an immediate impact, having Mohammad Hafeez caught behind off his second delivery.
However the next hour and a half belonged entirely to Pakistan. Promoted to open the innings, Ali played the anchor role while Shafiq scored freely in a 111-run stand for the second wicket.
Shafiq's intelligent knock saw boundaries to each part of the ground and he went to fifty in 59 balls, but his dismissal for 65 was the turning point in Pakistan's innings.
Bresnan found a hint of reverse swing and the right-hander chopped on just as he looked likely to increase the tempo. That left the pedestrian Ali, who took 74 balls for his half-century, in need of an attacking foil but Umar Akmal soon became Briggs' first victim in international cricket and Ali (58) was well caught at backward point off Dernbach soon after.
That left the innings rather rudderless, although Misbah-ul-Haq did his best to revive it without enjoying much support.
Shoaib Malik puttered about somewhat aimlessly for 23, and Shahid Afridi failed to boom, leaving Misbah to rattle to 46 from 52 balls before falling to Dernbach in the final over of the innings.
Dernbach cleaned up Ajmal with the final delivery to finish with 4 for 45, while Briggs provided the other notable performance as he returned figures of 2 for 39 in his 10 overs.