This was my second attempt at watching England play Pakistan, play had been stopped by Hailstones at the Oval, before play was called off. Pakistan had made 80 in 19 overs which may well have given the problems had play started again under the Duckworth Lewis method.
Having sat watching Essex play Notts in positively hot weather it was clear things were changing as I drove up the M1. As long as the rain stayed away we’d get a match! Jos Buttler was deputising for Eoin Morgan who was serving a match ban for a slow over rate, he won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat.
Imam ul-Haq had scored 151 from 131 balls in Bristol, but was forced to leave the fray when he was hit on his elbow by a ball from Mark Wood; he looked to be in complete agony, a real concern, especially after Babar Azam had left the field with a broken arm last year at Lords.
It was Babar who joined Fakhar Zaman at the crease, the pair batted well together and put on 116 for what was the first wicket. Fakhar was caught by Chris Wood form the bowling of Tom Curran having made 57 from 50 balls.
Mohammad Hafeez joined Babar, a veteran of this Pakistan team, he’s played over 200 ODI’s and at 38 is the elder statesman of the team. The pair put in 104 in just under 17 overs at an average of 6 an over. The top order had to contend with an opening bowling pair of Mark Wood and Joffra Archer, but they also faced Joe Denly, yet failed to ‘make hay’ while the sun was shining as such.
Hafeez did hit 3 Sixes and 2 Fours amongst his 59, he was caught by the sub fielder, Chris Jordan, a good man to have in your 12th man locker, from the bowling of Mark Wood. Pakistan were 220 for 2 after 36.4 overs. While runs were being scored it all felt too slow.
Babar batted beautifully, he reached a deserved century, he finished on 115 from 112 balls. One nagging worry is the fact that he reached his century in singles, from 92; that could be a problem in a World Cup match. He lost his wicket to a catch from Joffra Archer, from the bowling of Tom Curran.
Asif Ali joined Shoaib Malik, he made just 17 before being caught by Wood from the bowling of Archer. The news has subsequently come out that Asif’s young daughter has passed away having been unwell for a good portion of her life. It was quite remarkable that he was playing, my thoughts are with his and his family.
37 year old Shoaib Malik had come in at 5, a man with over 280 ODI’s to his name, he played his first in 1999. An experienced player therefore. He batted well making 41 from just 26 balls before he had some sort of brain freeze. Standing way back in his crease, he swung at a ball from Wood and took out all 3 stumps as he did so! Something he’s done before remarkably! It was a terrible faux pas while he was on a roll. The look on Mark Wood’s face was an absolute picture!
Pakistan were 316 for 7 in the 37th over when Malik demolished his wicket. Hassan Ali came in to join captain Sarfraz and became Tom Curran’s 4th wicket when he was caught by Joe Denly, he was out on his 2nd ball.
It was good to see Imam making his way back to the wicket, he’d been checked out and was confirmed as being in possession of a bruised arm, not a broken one. He added 3 to his score and helped put on 21 before the 50 overs were up, Sarfraz was not out 21 from 14 balls. Pakistan finished on 340 for 7.
This series was one where England would try some different combinations, with Alex Hales barred from the team for his off field misdemeanours, James Vince opened with Jason Roy while Jonny Bairstow was ‘rested’.
Again after the fact it emerged that Jason Roy had spent hours at a hospital with his new baby daughter before joining the team having had little sleep.
James Vince started in James Vince fashion, playing some truly beautiful shots, he’d had a great Royal London Cup scoring 190 in one game. I really hoped he’d get a big score in an England shirt. But having scored 3 from 39 balls, including 6 Fours, he was flumoxed by a ball from 19 year old Mohammad Hasnain.
England were 94 for 1 in the 14th over, Roy was joined by Joe Root. Roy was in fine form, at his powerful best, he made 114 from just 89 balls, including 11 Fours and 4 Sixes. Pakistan’s fielding left something to be desired at times, it was quite painful to see.
Roy and Root put on 107 for the second wicket, before Roy was caught by Sarfraz from the bowling of Husnain. He’d batted for just over 2 hours and put England in a commanding position.
At 201 for 2 in the 28th over, England looked to be breezing to a victory. But cricket’s a funny old game. Joe Root was out in the next over having made 36 from 41 balls. He was caught by Hafeez from the bowling of Imad.
One of England’s biggest batting threats was next in, he was also next out, Jos Buttler was caught by Hasnain in the same over for a Duck! Moeen Ali joined Ben Stokes who’d come in at 4, Moeen Ali was out after facing just 3 balls, another Duck as he was caught by Fakhar from the bowling of Shoaib. England had gone from 201 for 2 to 216 for 5!
England needed a partnership! Joe Denly came in to join Ben Stokes. Junaid had literally had a horror in the field, to the rather cruel amusement of those he was fielding near. But he took a sublime catch from his own bowling to dismiss Denly. England were 258 for 6 in the 40th over. They needed 83 from 60 balls.
Ben Stokes has shown himself capable of batting to the situation several times of late and this innings was no exception. He just needed someone to stay with him. Tom Curran came in at 8 and formed a partnership of 61 with Stokes.
England had moved to 319 for 7 in the 48th over. Adil Rashid joined Stokes and the pair saw England to the 341 they needed to win. Stokes finished 71 not out from 64 balls. Rashid 12 from 12 and England won the match with 3 balls to spare.