Bresnan adds salt to Pakistan's wounds in second T20

Fast bowler takes three wickets as touring side's pedestrian batting display help hosts to their fifth consecutive series win.

Tim Bresnan wraps up the Pakistan innings by bowling Shoaib Akhtar. Bresnan was the pick of the England bowlers at Cardiff yesterday.
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Having now won five successive series on home soil in the space of a few months, with the latest sealed by last night's Tim Bresnan-inspired success, England's cricketers are probably wishing this triumphant summer will never end. How different the atmosphere must feel in their opposition's dressing room. With five one-day internationals still to play, Pakistan's Tour of Hell is starting to feel tortuously drawn out.

Bresnan leapt into their nightmare while the water was still warm, as he took three wickets to set up another comprehensive six-wicket victory in the second T20 international in Cardiff. As has become customary just lately, England's top-order struggled over the run chase, but were again marshalled across the finish line by Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy, as they sealed a 2-0 series win. Cardiff's Swalec Stadium may be a relative newcomer to international cricket, yet it is already etching out a storied history for itself.

Last year it was the site of Paul Collingwood's match-cum-Ashes-saving rearguard against Australia in the first Test to be played in the Welsh capital. That match culminated in a heated debate about the erosion of the Spirit of the Game, as Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, fumed over stalling tactics by England, which had apparently included orange juice and a batting glove. It seemed important back then. However, the gravity of that mini-furore pales into insignificance when set against that which overshadowed this week's two-match Twenty20 series in the principality.

The Ashes spat was little more than a temporary diversion. The latest drama, namely the spot-fixing scandal involving Pakistan's players, has provided a threat to the fabric of the sport. Welsh cricket supporters should have been able to savour arguably the 20-over format's blue riband series. On paper, this pitted together the world champions, England, against a Pakistan side who are - by some distance - the best side in the history of the newest form of the sport.

Yet it proved to be a non-event. So distracted were Pakistan, England were virtually playing unopposed as they took the series 2-0. Even if their opposition had gone AWOL, the home players still had plenty of incentive with an Ashes series fast approaching. Bresnan continues to do all he can to earn himself a ticket for England's winter tour from the sparing chances which come his way. The underrated Yorkshire seam-bowler was England's star performer with the ball, as he hastened Pakistan's implosion with three cheap wickets.

That included the first to fall, Kamran Akmal, and the last, Shoaib Akhtar, as the tourists crumbled to a paltry 89 all out. Stuart Broad, the pace bowler whose place on the plane for the Ashes is - barring injury - beyond doubt, showed why he could prove a real threat on the hard wickets of Australia. The Swalec pitch provided more assistance for the slow bowlers over these two T20 games, yet Broad still managed to produce some alarming bounce.

Pakistani batsmen historically struggle against fast, short-pitched bowling. The point was proven again when a brace of 90mph thunderbolts from Broad removed Shahzaib Hasan, then Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan linchpin. Afridi's departure left the tourists mired at 22 for four, and they never recovered. Umar Akmal briefly sparkled. His innings was a microcosm of his summer, as he blazed two imperious straight sixes off Graeme Swann, the England spin bowler, then promptly fell trying to make it a hat-trick.

Swann is still riding high. England's player of the year also dismissed Fawad Alam, contributed to the run out of Mohammed Hafeez, and ended with two for 26 from his four overs. While England's bowling unit could be satisfied with their evening's work, the batsmen were out of sorts again. Craig Kieswetter, who has not been selected for their 50-over side, will return to the shadows with another disappointing score to his name.

He smashed Akhtar for a huge six, before being run out. None of the rest of the top-order fared a great deal better, and it was left again to Morgan and Yardy to apply the gloss. * Compiled by Paul Radley