The jubilant coach of England was pleased with the performance of his team as the tour against Pakistan was coming to end and his team was emerging as winners.
The world no.1 was shocked when they were knocked out 3-0 in the Test series by the ordinary looking Pakistan team in their early part of the tour. Englishmen were mesmerized by the quality spin bowling of Pakistan as their lethal duo of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, ripped through their batting. They grabbed 43 wickets in the series where Ajmal was unplayable and became the top wicket taker by punching out their 24 batsmen. He was declared ‘Player of the series’ and his fellow leg spinner, Rehman grasped 19 wickets and both became a cause of concern for the visitors.
England assessed their weaknesses in the longer version of the game and hit back hardly at Pakistan by achieving a whitewash of 4-0 in One Day Internationals. They had their home work prior to the start of the ODIs and negotiated the threatening spin attack of the hosts at their best. The spinners who were destructive in the Test series looked ordinary and could manage just 14 wickets in four games. Ajmal made some impression by claiming 10 wickets as Shahid Afridi held three in four games and Rehman just one in two games.
Flower was impressed by the achievement of his team in the ODI series while commenting, “I think we’ve learned some good lessons from the Test experience. Those are good signs for me as a coach to see. The guys are learning and embedding those lessons – that’s a very healthy thing for us in the future.”
England was at the receiving end in the first Twenty20 which was lost by just eight runs. They were in command and were chasing well the target of 145 runs and required 35 runs in the last 30 deliveries with seven wickets in hand. Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal struck for Pakistan while claiming three more wickets and the visitors faced a distance of nine runs from the victory. Flower described the debacle in the game as, “We had 35 to get off the last five overs with seven wickets in hand. Then there was some really good ‘death’ bowling from (Saeed) Ajmal and (Umar) Gul that ensured that we didn’t.”
England emerged winners in the second T20 by a huge margin of 38 runs when Jonny Bairstow played a heroic knock at a crucial stage of the match. He smashed unbeaten 60 off 46 balls with the assistance of two sixes and 5 fours as his team managed 150 runs for the loss of seven wickets. Pakistan was bowled out for 112 runs in 18.2 overs as English bowlers raided at their casual looking batting.
Flower hailed the courageous batting of Bairstow who learned the lesson from the previous game. The coach encouraged the young batsman as, “In this game we won last night, I thought Bairstow’s innings was outstanding. A young guy like Jonny Bairstow has shown that he has learned from the first Twenty20 game and showed a slightly different method against Gul and against the spin,”
The third and deciding T20 will be played at Sheihk Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi on February 27, 2012 and Flower was anticipating winning the series.