Pakistan’s experienced heads held their nerves well as the Men in Green stunned hosts and favourites England by 14 runs in a high-scoring 2019 ICC World Cup encounter at Trent Bridge.
Batting first, Pakistan rode on fifties from Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed to rack up 348-8 – their second highest total ever in a World Cup clash.
England batsmen Joe Root and Jos Buttler broke the 2019 World Cup drought of centuries with two excellent knocks but the hosts were unable to pull off a record chase and were restricted to 334-9.
The English openers fell early but a quick-fire 130-run stand between Root and Buttler had the hosts ahead in the run chase before Shadab Khan got the breakthrough with the former’s dismissal.
Buttler continued to attack at the other end but his dismissal to Mohammad Amir saw Pakistan take control before Wahab Riaz closed the doors with the wickets of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes.
Earlier, having been made to bat first by England skipper Eoin Morgan, Pakistan were given an excellent start by openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq who added 82 runs for the first wicket.
Once both the openers fell in quick succession to the off-spin of Moeen Ali, Babar Azam and veteran Mohammad Hafeez took control for Pakistan in the middle. The two forged an excellent 88-run partnership as they marched to their respective half-centuries before Babar (63) became Moeen’s third dismissal of the day.
Hafeez continued to take the attack to England’s bowlers in a superb innings and was given excellent support by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed who chipped in with a 55.
England’s bowlers struck back with some late wickets in the death overs but they were unable to prevent Pakistan from registering the highest total of the ongoing World Cup.
The veteran Pakistan all-rounder had not had the best of forms in the past year but he was at the heart the side’s superb display at Trent Bridge. The Professor’s counter-attacking innings of 84 (62) was responsible for stretching Pakistan’s total to a mammoth 348.
While Babar took a more circumspect approach at the crease and looked to rotate the strike, Hafeez was adventurous.
He then followed up that excellent batting effort with the important wicket of England skipper Eoin Morgan with his off-spin to complete a superb all-round effort.
Old horses Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz the difference
England lost regular wickets in their attempt at a World Cup-record chase but were on course with Joe Root and Jos Buttler at the crease. The former departed after a fine hundred but the latter kept up at the onslaught.
Buttler was threatening to take away the game from Pakistan as he brought up a 72-ball century but Pakistan fought back through the experience of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz. After Buttler smashed Amir for a boundary to bring up England’s fastest ever World Cup ton, the Pakistan pacer responded by dismissing him immediately the delivery after with a well-disguised slower ball.
Even with Buttler gone, Pakistan had it all to do with England’s deep batting unit but Wahab Riaz put his hand up to seal the win with the crucial wickets of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes. That inspired spell by the two experienced left-armed pacers in the death overs proved to be the difference in the end for Pakistan.
Eyebrows had been raised with their inclusion in the final 15-man World Cup squad but they showed the selectors were right in backing the value of their experience.
Pakistan break ODI losing streak
With their victory over England, Pakistan have brought an end to their treacherous run in the ODI format where they had lost 11 matches in a row heading into Monday’s clash.
In between, the Men in Green had also lost to Afghanistan in the warm-up clash but that was not an official match.
11 ODI losses in a row, comprehensively beaten in their opening #CWC19 encounter, Pakistan bounce back with a brilliant win over England at Trent Bridge. 🔥— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) June 3, 2019
They have beaten the hosts – and tournament favourites – by 14 runs! pic.twitter.com/Pmz5Am6YdE
Muller, 29, stated on Twitter that since India skipper Kohli has been a regular supporter of the German football team, it was time to return the favour.
The 29-year-old – the 2014 world champion with Die Mannschaft – took to Twitter on Monday to throw his weight behind India and Kohli. The Men in Blue begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on Wednesday.
Muller tweeted: “I wish all participants of the Cricket World Cup 2019 good luck and thrilling matches. Especially I cross my fingers for Kohli, the captain of the Indian team.”
I wish all participants of the Cricket #WorldCup2019 good luck & thrilling matches. Especially I cross my fingers for @imVkohli, the captain of the Indian team. He`s a fan of @DFB_Team and supported it multiple times in the past 🏏✊😃 #Cricket #GermanyCheersForIndia #esmuellert pic.twitter.com/hwS4apAlIE— Thomas Müller (@esmuellert_) June 3, 2019
SUPER CATCH… IN THE CROWD
A photographer from AFP found himself in the news after taking a stunning catch during the match between Bangladesh and South Africa at The Oval.
Ian Kington – who was working near the players’ dressing rooms – saw South Africa captain Faf du Plessis hit a straight six off spinner Mosaddek Hossain.
With one hand on his camera, Kington caught the ball with his right hand and then coolly acknowledged the applauding crowd.
“That is a good grab, that is a classic catch,” said commentator Mark Nicholas. Take a look yourself.
STAT OF THE DAY
737 – Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz is back in the ODI team after a gap of two years. He was picked because of the pace and experience that he brings to the team. However, he didn’t have much to do in the opening game against West Indies as Pakistan were blown away for 105.
However in his second match, Wahab finally had an entry in the wicket’s column, sending back Jonny Bairstow with a sharp lifter. It was his first wicket since April 2017. Or to be precise, 737 days.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Smart move this from the team management. They are not letting Pandya and Rahul go out without adult supervision. pic.twitter.com/RLgXGxboKn— cricBC (@cricBC) June 3, 2019
Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib is not perturbed by the threat of rain ahead of his side’s 2019 ICC World Cup clash against Sri Lanka at Cardiff on Tuesday.
Both sides are searching for a first win of the tournament after tasting defeats in their respective campaign openers but their hopes could be dashed by the weather with some rain predicted for Tuesday.
However, Gulbadin feels a rain-curtailed match could suit the aggressive nature of his Afghanistan side.
“It was also predicted for today, but it didn’t rain so much,” the Afghanistan skipper was quoted as saying by AFP.
“Tomorrow we just see what’s the weather. I think maybe the weather will be the same. So if we can reduce the overs it will be much better for us.”
Afghanistan started their campaign with a comprehensive loss to Australia with the five-time champions chasing down a target of 208 runs with seven wickets to spare.
Despite the one-sided nature of the loss, Gulbadin is keeping a positive outlook for the remainder of the tournament.
“We’ve got to be positive. If you look, we missed out on 12 overs in the previous game, yet we scored 200-plus,” Naib said.
“If you have wickets in hand, so maybe the score is 300-plus something.”
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, were beaten over more resoundingly by New Zealand with Dimuth Karunaratne bowled out for a mere 136 runs in a 10-wicket loss. However, Gulbadin is refusing to take the islanders lightly despite their recent struggles in limited-overs cricket.
“I saw the Sri Lankans play on TV. They lost a few games in the last two years and they’re struggling in one-day matches,” he said.
“Yeah, we have the opportunity to do well against them. But they are also a good team and we cannot it take easy.
“We can try to score big. If we play 50 overs maybe it will be difficult for them.”