This was my 3rd World Cup Match, but I must write this up before the Bangladesh v South Africa match, which in itself was a special result. (photos to follow)
I got to Trent Bridge via the Clifton Park and Tram, it’s a great way to get to the ground, but having chatted for too long at my Airbnb I was a few minutes late. I missed the toss, but could see England about to field as I arrived. After the horror show that was the Pakistan innings against the West Indies Eoin Morgan’s decision to put them in to bat may have felt logical. I hoped we wouldn’t be having another early finish.
I’m English so an England fan, but, I pretty much support Pakistan too. So whatever happened I was going to be happy. I told the England fans I was sitting amongst that I’d be cheering anything good from the Green Team. All fine as far as I’m concerned as I was at a cricket match rather than football (although I have been known to cheer both teams at football too!)
Pakistan needed a good start and that’s what they got, Fakhar and Imam put on 82 for the first wicket. There seemed to be very little in the wicket for the opening bowlers, perhaps the West Indies had battered that into submission too!
Moeen Ali was brought on to change things, and that he did. Fakhar was stumped for 39, a decent piece of work by Buttler, I think I probably cheered and also groaned in disappointment. The wicket fell in the 15th over, Pakistan only lasted just over 21 overs in their first match.
A solid foundation for the Pakistan innings, Imam looked in good nick, but he went for a big shot from the bowling of Moeen and was caught by Chris Woakes, a brilliant running effort out on the boundary. Imam departed on 44 and Pakistan were 111 for 2.
Babar, who’d come in at 3 was joined by Hafeez, neither are big hitters but both are a delight to watch. They put on 88 in 12 overs, it was hard to see where a wicket was going to come from. It took a second Woakes/Moeen combination to see Babar back into the pavilion. Another boundary catch and Babar was gone for 63.
Useful runs from Pakistan’s top 3, the 105 horror was far behind them as they’d moved up to 199 for 3. Jason Roy had dropped Hafeez early in his innings, it proved to be a costly error.
Captain Sarfraz was next up, I’d been sideways to the wicket at Headingley and was able to see how far he steps back into his crease. Unlike Gary Ballance he starts a long way outside so generally looks safe. Although I did think he might ‘do a Shoaib’ a couple of times!
Sarfraz has been under pressure with his batting but he and Hafeez batted well together, forming a partnership of 80 in just under 10 overs, a key spell for Pakistan. Experienced campaigner Hafeez looked to be heading for his century, but that ball headed to Woakes hands again, this time from the bowling of Mark Wood, he was out for 82, and Pakistan were 279 for 4.
Asif Ali made 14 before sending Jonny Bairstow a regulation catch from Wood’s bowling. Sarfraz had batted well, but his was the 6th wicket to fall, caught and bowled this time, Woakes for 55.
Woakes was having a good day, and he added the wickets of Shoaib Malik and Wahab Riaz to his tally.
Pakistan finished their innings on an impressive 348 for 8. Included in that total were 20 extras. Jason Roy has dropped what looked like a reasonably easy catch and England had conceded 4 overthrows, I think from Woakes bowling.
England had a record run chase on their hands.
That chase didn’t start too well, and Jason Roy’s day didn’t improve. In common with South Africa, Sarfraz brought a spinner, Shadab, on early. And he too struck early, trapping Roy LBW for just 8. England were 12 for 1 in the third over.
Joe Root came in to join Jonny Bairstow, there’s often discussion around Root’s role in this team, he often plays a sedate, anchor role. There was nothing sedate about this innings, initially he and Bairstow formed a partnership of 48, with Bairstow falling victim to the returning Wahab, he was caught by Sarfraz for 32.
The 2 veterans of the Pakistan bowling line up, Hafeez at 37 and Shoaib at 38 took a wicket apiece with Hafeez trapping Morgan for 9 and Shoaib tempting Stokes with a ball caught by Sarfraz for 13. I confess to shouting as loud, well maybe not quite as loud, as the Stani Army when the wickets fell. England were in a record run chase and were 118 for 4 in the 22nd over.
Enter Jos Buttler, he and Root gave us something of a batting exhibition, as they added 130 runs in just over 17 overs. In common with England there was a dropped catch, Babar dropped Root early on, he must’ve been mortified as Root approached and passed his century.
Root made 107 from 104 balls, including 10 Fours and a Six, however Shadab got the breakthrough for Pakistan, with Hafeez taking the catch. It was good to see the many Pakistan fans applauding Root’s century, but they were, of course glad to see the back of him!
Jos Buttler had played a Jos Buttler innings, which is always a treat, again, his century was roundly appreciated. Pakistan needed a wicket and their go to man Amir, obliged.
A catch by a Wahab and Buttler was out! He’d made 103 from just 76 balls, a Strike Rate of over 135.
England were 288 for 6 in the 45th over. The chase was still a possibility. Ultimately England fell short by just 14 runs, Moeen contributed 19, Woakes 21 and Wood 10. But 2 wickets in 2 balls for Wahab and a 2nd wicket for Amir in the next over put the breaks on. England finished on 334 for 9.
This was a superb game of cricket, a remarkable turn around for a Pakistan team devastated just days before.
I was genuinely happy for the Green Team, England could afford to lose this one, Pakistan probably couldn’t. I can support Pakistan fully in the next 6 matches I’m watching them in, I’ll be hoping to be celebrating with my Stani Army friends after each one.
England will have learnt from this loss, I’ll be amazed if they don’t finish in the top 4 before heading to the Final on July 14th.
As an addendum, Pakistan have been hit with fines for a slow over rate, and both Jason Roy and Joffra Archer for dissent. I can’t help but feel there were double standards on the run rate issue, England were hardly speedy on that front!