Angry Afridi cuts Irfan down to size

Angry Afridi cuts Irfan down to size

In what turned out to be a tense finish, England won the second one-day international yesterday by four wickets with three balls to spare as they went 2-0 up in their five-match series against Pakistan.

But the result might have been different had not 7ft seamer Irfan, positioned at short fine leg, dropped a glance from Andrew Strauss when the England captain had made just 23.

It was a costly error with Strauss going on to make 126 as England, replying to Pakistan's 294 for eight, finished on 295 for six.

Strauss also appeared to be given another reprieve on 38 when wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, changing direction and diving full length to his right, held what he thought was a one-handed catch off fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

But the decision review system (DRS), increasingly common in Test cricket, has yet to be introduced into the one-day international format and Pakistan were unable to challenge West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove's not out verdict.

Afridi, asked if DRS should feature in limited overs internationals, replied: "It will be good in matches like this and big series like this.

"It's important in cricket now. I know in Twenty20 you don't have much time but in one-day cricket you would."

But Strauss said: "I wasn't sure it hit my glove. The umpires are there to make a decision."

Any thoughts about DRS in one-day cricket would have been stilled if Irfan had caught Strauss.

Poor fielding has plagued Pakistan for several years and Afridi's patience is clearly at an end.

"I'm really disappointed with this guy (Irfan)," he said. "Cricket is not all about just batting and bowling, nowadays fielding is very important. Maybe if he is good in the field I will give him a chance but otherwise I am not happy."

But Pakistan, with Kamran Akmal making 74 and Asad Shafiq a maiden fifty, at least ran England close.

"I'm quite happy, the boys put in some effort. We have three more games and definitely we will get a result (win)," Afridi added.

Pakistan's tour of Britain has been overshadowed by newspaper allegations of a betting scam that saw no-balls deliberately bowled in the fourth Test against England at Lord's last month.

The claims, published in the News of the World, led to the suspension of Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif by the International Cricket Council.

But the Pakistan supporters in a capacity 18,500 crowd got behind their side and there was no jeering by England fans.

Afridi said he hoped the support would be maintained during the remaining three matches of this series, which continues at The Oval on Friday before moving across London to Lord's a week on Sunday before finishing at Hampshire's Rose Bowl on September 22.

"It's a very great sign and we are expecting more fans in London and Hampshire as well. If we play cricket at this level, definitely the crowd will come and they will enjoy the game," he said.

Man-of-the-match Strauss has opted out of Twenty20 internationals and his worth as a one-day batsman has been questioned by several pundits.

But the left-handed opener, after scoring his second one-day century in three matches, said: "I've worked very hard on trying to expand my game a little bit.

"I'm very happy with my game at the moment, and even more happy we're continuing to win. All I can do is do my talking with the bat and help England win cricket matches.
"People can talk as much as they like. It's pretty irrelevant to me."

Turning to Pakistan, Strauss said: "It's obviously a tough time for them, with a lot of distractions off the pitch.

"The last two games they've played very well, and it goes to show that they're a dangerous side and not easy to beat."

Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, yet to feature in this series, is due to have a scan on a back injury ahead of The Oval match.

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