Tag Archives: arduous

England beat Pakistan to win T20 series

KP is the nuts: Pietersen the hero again as England win tense thriller against Pakistan to clinch T20 series

Kevin Pietersen's continued good form helped England to a thrilling five-run victory and 2-1 Twenty20 series success over Pakistan to conclude their tough tour of the United Arab Emirates.

Pietersen's unbeaten 62 underpinned only a vulnerable 129 for six, and although Pakistan looked sure to complete the chase with ease at one stage, England's bowlers dug in to sneak the spoils.

Saeed Ajmal's four for 23, and the economical back-up spin of Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi, stalled England's momentum after Stuart Broad chose to bat first on an awkward surface at the Zayed Stadium.

Hands on the trophy: England won the Twenty20 series against Pakistan 2-1

Hands on the trophy: England won the Twenty20 series against Pakistan 2-1

Their total lacked a double-figure score between numbers three and six as Ajmal, their scourge throughout here, finished his eight weeks' work with 39 wickets.

It was only in company with fellow opener Craig Kieswetter and then Samit Patel that Pietersen managed to dominate, but he nonetheless hit six fours and a six from 52 balls.

He alone struck the ball with any regularity and authority as England's batsmen struggled to cope with conditions, and it transpired he had done just enough to help finish an arduous trip on a high.

That'll clinch it: Jade Dernbach celebrates taking the last wicket of Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq to win the third Twenty20 match

That'll clinch it: Jade Dernbach celebrates taking the last wicket of Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq to win the third Twenty20 match

Knee-sy does it: Dernbach celebrates taking a wicket with the final ball to clinch the match and series

Knee-sy does it: Dernbach celebrates taking a wicket with the final ball to clinch the match and series

It was clear Pakistan did not have an easy chase, but knowing their target and that England had only eight overs of frontline spin seemed a major advantage.

Hafeez was caught-and-bowled by Jade Dernbach for a first-ball duck in the second over, and Awais Zia was unluckily lbw to a delivery from Graeme Swann which turned very sharply from round the wicket but pitched outside leg.

Asad Shafiq's sensible batting got Pakistan within striking distance, though, by the time he was run out unable to scamper an unwise second to deep midwicket.

Swann on song: Graeme Swann celebrates with his team-mates after taking a wicket

Swann on song: Graeme Swann celebrates with his team-mates after taking a wicket

Body on the line: England's captain Stuart Broad is at full stretch to stop the ball as Pakistan's Awais Zia, left, runs between the wicket

Body on the line: England's captain Stuart Broad is at full stretch to stop the ball as Pakistan's Awais Zia, left, runs between the wicket

Two other run-out opportunities evaded England, Zia and Umar Akmal the men to survive.

But Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq's pursuit then ran out out steam as Broad in particular put the squeeze on, and the Pakistan captain was last out for 28, bowled by Dernbach trying in vain to heave the six needed from the final ball of the innings.

Kieswetter and Pietersen had got England off to a handy start for the third match running, until the former was well-caught at wide long-on by Shoaib Malik in Ajmal's first over.

Kieswetter was already responsible for clubbing 12 runs, culminating in a straight six, from Umar Gul's first three deliveries.

Big leap: England's Jade Dernbach jumps in the air as he celebrates taking the wicket of Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez

Big leap: England's Jade Dernbach jumps in the air as he celebrates taking the wicket of Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez

That is out: Pakistan's Shahid Afridi runs out England's Eoin Morgan

That is out: Pakistan's Shahid Afridi runs out England's Eoin Morgan

Cometh the hour: England's Kevin Pietersen was the hero with the bat again as he hit 62 not out off just 52 balls

Cometh the hour: England's Kevin Pietersen was the hero with the bat again as he hit 62 not out off just 52 balls

But neither Ravi Bopara nor Eoin Morgan could get started.

Bopara edged a very good ball from Aizaz Cheema to diving wicketkeeper Akmal.

Then Morgan's nightmare tour ended with one of his worst innings. He somehow managed an acceptable nine from 11 balls, but could easily have been out twice as he mistimed or simply missed before a mix-up with Pietersen saw him run out, sent back for a single.

Jonny Bairstow, hero of the series-levelling win in Dubai two days ago, was also all at sea in the desert this time as Ajmal and Afridi took control.

Ajmal bowled Bairstow, trying to cut the wrong ball. But it was Afridi who dried up the runs most effectively, as England failed to score from 12 of the 24 balls the leg-spinner bowled.

Pietersen lost the strike, facing only 14 of 40 deliveries at one stage, and – until Patel joined him – it was all too much for a succession of new men to the wicket.

Patel struck 12 runs, again including a straight six, from the first three balls of Ajmal's last over. But the off-spinner had the last word, when Patel was stumped, and even Pietersen could not get England significantly above six-an-over until Cheema served him a full-toss which disappeared over midwicket for a maximum from the last ball of the innings.

It was to prove a crucial blow too, one Misbah was singularly unable to match when his team needed it two hours later.

Nathan Cleverly interview: Welshman fighting to restore British boxing"s reputation

EXCLUSIVE: Saving grace: Cleverly fighting to repair British boxing's battered reputation

Shameful, disgraceful and disgusting were just some of the words used to describe the brawl between Dereck Chisora and David Haye last Sunday morning.

The two British heavyweights showed a flagrant disregard for a noble sport built on respect and discipline when their war of words escalated into an embarrassing punch-up.

But on Saturday, Nathan Cleverly, one of only two world champions from these shores, can begin the arduous task of dragging British boxing from the gutter.

All grown up: Nathan Cleverly is ready to take on Tommy Karpency to defend his light-heavyweight crown

All grown up: Nathan Cleverly is ready to take on Tommy Karpency to defend his light-heavyweight crown

The 25-year-old from South Wales faces the unheralded American Tommy Karpency in the third defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.

Cleverly’s long-awaited homecoming is part of a mouthwatering triple header for Welsh sport with Twickenham hosting the Six Nations clash with England before Cardiff travel to Wembley to take on Liverpool in the Carling Cup final on Sunday.

Wedged in between, Cleverly will hope to defend his belt in style as he eyes a summer showdown with American legend Bernard Hopkins at the Cardiff City Stadium.

And, at a time when many are questioning boxing’s place in society, the Welshman’s story epitomises the positive influence it can have.

Growing up: A young Nathan Cleverly

Graduating in style: Nathan Cleverly at his graduation

Graduating in style: Cleverly in his younger years and at his university graduation

‘As a young child, for some reason I enjoyed fighting,’ the world champion admits. ‘I enjoyed the buzz of being competitive and if I thought there was some guy who was a bit of a bully, I always liked to challenge myself against him and bring him down. It was a mix of competitiveness, aggression and wanting to stand up for myself.

‘The fights were mostly on street corners or in the nearest field with a big crowd of people. It was very raw and it sums up my background and the area I was brought up in. There were no facilities and not much going on, it was very rough.

‘The majority of boxers come from a background where they haven’t had everything put on a plate. They’ve had a tough upbringing and are often insecure people. I thought boxing was a good way to battle my demons.

Fighting fit: Cleverly weighed in at 12st 6lb

Fighting fit: Cleverly weighed in at 12st 6lb

‘I was named called quite a bit because I had big ears. I was never bullied physically because I had the strength and mentality to fight my way out of it. It added to my insecurities but you can either cave under the bullies or come out fighting and obviously I came out fighting. It does make you stronger.’

/02/24/article-2106091-11E13F7F000005DC-985_634x453.jpg” width=”634″ height=”453″ alt=”Flying the flag for Wales: Rugby captain Sam Warburton will be hoping to beat England while Cleverly defends his light heavyweight title and Cardiff City Captain Mark Hudson will hope to lift the Carling Cup” class=”blkBorder” />

Flying the flag for Wales: Rugby captain Sam Warburton will be hoping to beat England while Cleverly defends his light heavyweight title and Cardiff City Captain Mark Hudson will hope to lift the Carling Cup

‘The gym was a controlled and monitored environment. If you keep channelling your aggression on the street, you’ll end up in trouble.’

But while Cleverly found respite in the ring, some of his peers took a different path altogether.

‘There are numerous people I grew up with who ended up in prison,’ he admits. ‘They got into trouble and ended up paying the consequences. Part of that was because they had no way of channelling their energy.’

After the brawl in Munich cast a shadow over boxing, Cleverly is keen to extol its positive influence.

‘A lot of the boxing trainers are very hard and cold characters; they’re straight to the point, and strict,’ he adds. ‘That teaches you respect, to listen to commands and to focus. There’s no room for any violence outside the ring, that was always drummed into me from a young age.

Past and present: Nathan Cleverly met former undefeated Welsh fighter Joe Calzaghe and Bradley Pryce

Sparing partners: Nathan Cleverly with Joe Calzage

Meeting his hero: Cleverly with Joe Calzaghe and Bradley Pryce as a youngster and then as sparring partners

‘Personally, boxing has given me a focus and a direction in life. Ultimately its allowed me to earn myself a good living and has provided the foundations for life. It was a platform for my dream to become world champion and I’m grateful to the sport for allowing me to go on and to do that and for making me a mentally strong character, in and out of the ring.’

As well as flourishing with his fists, Cleverly used his new-found mental toughness to excel in the classroom.

‘Everything I did I wanted to be good at. I loved challenging myself and it was the same with school work and exams. I had a lot of respect for my education because it sets you up for life and I combined that with my boxing and pushed as hard as I could with both of them.

Keeping fit: Cleverly was into boxing and keeping in shape from a young age

Keeping fit: Cleverly was into boxing and keeping in shape from a young age

‘Boxing helps make you a more disciplined person because it requires a high level of concentration and that rubbed off on my school work. That benefited my education and I made the most of the opportunities I had in school.’

Having turned professional aged 18, Cleverly enrolled at Cardiff University in 2006 to study maths. Within two years, he had beaten Tony Oakey over 12 rounds to lift the vacant Commonwealth title which he went on to defend five times.

Courtney Fry was stopped inside eight at London’s York Hall as Cleverly added the British belt to his collection and the European title followed in 2010 just months before he graduated with a 2:2.

But juggling fractions with fighting brought its own problems.

Showing promise: Nathan Cleverly

Made it: Nathan Cleverly poses with his belts

Fulfilling his potential: Cleverly shows an early interest in boxing (left) and poses with his belts years later

‘It was the first time I had lived on my own,’ he recalls. ‘I had to try and concentrate on my diet, which was difficult, but I learned to be independent and to take care of myself.

‘I lived with four mates in my second year, which was crazy. We were all studying for good degrees but we liked to party. That was a really challenging year and I had to step it up because my workload was increasing, my fights were getting slightly harder and my social life was heavy.

‘I was always fit for my fights, but there were some I wasn’t 100 per cent for. I was going to bed at three or four in the morning after a long revision session and that affected my sleep pattern and my diet.

‘I did have a fear of losing. If my preparations were not right, doubts would creep in but I always found a way to pull out a victory.

Face off: Cleverly and Tommy Karpency go head to head at the weigh-in

Face off: Cleverly and Tommy Karpency go head to head at the weigh-in

‘At times I thought either university or boxing had to go but I just dug deep and worked hard. I do look back and wonder how I did it but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.’

Which gave him the bigger rush, graduating, or winning a bout

‘Graduating from university was special for me. I was always wondering if the day was ever going to come and when it finally did it was such a relief. I felt a sense of pride that I’d come through but my biggest buzz comes from winning in the boxing ring. When my hand is raised and I’m announced as the winner, it’s incredible.’

Months after completing his education, Cleverly earned the interim WBO title with a hard-fought win over Frenchman Nadjib Mohammedi in Liverpool.

Full champion Jrgen Braehmer was the next target but the German pulled out of the proposed fight last May. Cleverly was awarded the WBO title and successfully defended it against Aleksy Kuziemski, a late replacement for Braehmer, before winning a majority decision over Tony Bellew in October.

On Saturday, Cleverly will aim to continue on his upward trajectory and restore a little faith in a sport that has given him so much.

‘Boxing is commonly associated with thuggery,’ he concludes. ‘But my case proves you can break the mould.’