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
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