Despite his team falling just short of what would have been a record run chase for Pakistan, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is taking plenty of positives from his side’s 12-run loss to England in the second ODI.
Pakistan came close to pulling off the second highest run-chase in ODI history when they scored 361-7 in reply to England’s 373-3 at Southampton on Saturday.
It was the highest ODI score ever by Pakistan while batting second and it came courtesy of a superb attacking ton from opener Fakhar Zaman along with a quick-fire fifty from Asif Ali down the order.
Fakhar registered his fourth ODI ton in a 106-ball 138 while Asif registered his second fifty in the format with a 36-ball 51 in Pakistan’s chase.
Speaking after the narrow defeat, Sarfraz said, “I think it’s hard to take, we were very close.”
“I’m very proud of the team the way they batted, Fakhar Zaman, Babar (Azam), Asif Ali especially, will be good for the upcoming matches.
“Whatever the target is, we have to work hard. I have to give credit to my batsmen, I’m very proud.”
While the loss gave hosts England a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, the return to form for opener Fakhar Zaman has Sarfraz encouraged ahead of the 2019 ICC World Cup.
“We will aim to get better. We can take positives, like Fakhar, before the World Cup definitely,” Sarfraz remarked.
Sarfraz’s England counterpart Eoin Morgan too praised Fakhar’s efforts and called on his team to improve.
“We still believed, 370 is a tough score to chase down,” the England skipper stated after the win.
“Fakhar surprised us with how well he played, he had a day out. We need to work on some of our skills. But to post that score and defend it, it very pleasing.”
Earlier, he first ODI between the two sides had been washed out due to rain. The two teams will now meet in the third ODI at Bristol on Tuesday.
Powered by a superb ton by Jos Buttler, England posted a mammoth 373-3 in their 50 overs after they were made to bat first by Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed.
The Men in Green responded in kind with a brilliant century from opener Fakhar Zaman but their highest score while batting second in ODIs fell just short on 361-7 as England took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
At the end of a high-scoring encounter at the Ageas bowl, we look at the key talking points.
ENGLAND OPENERS MAKE HEY
With the lengthy batting unit that England possess, any substantial partnership by the openers can spell doom for the opposition and that is exactly what happened at the Ageas Bowl.
On a flat deck with not much assistance for the seamers, England’s openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy made merry with a 115-run stand that came at almost run-a-ball. Having just returned from an exceptional debut IPL campaign, Bairstow was in full flow as Pakistan’s pacers were made to toil.
Roy, on the other hand, was scratchy to start having just recovered from illness but soon grew into confidence as the innings progressed. While Bairstow departed after an entertaining 45-ball 51, Roy continued to march on and was looking good for a century before perishing to Hasan Ali on 87 (98).
BUTTLER SHOWS WHO THE BOSS
The solid platform laid by England’s openers is exactly the sort of situation in which their big hitters like Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan thrive and the two batsmen needed no second invitation.
Buttler smashed a six off Yasir Shah off his very second delivery to set the tone for the rest of his innings as he raced away to a half-century off just 32 balls. That was just an appetiser for the main treat to come with the right-hander scoring another 50 runs off his next 18 deliveries to bring up the second quickest ODI hundred in history for England.
Buttler reached the landmark with his ninth six of the innings in an exhibition of sublime hitting which saw England collect 162 runs in the final 15 overs. His destructive act with the bat saw Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali and Yasir Shah face the music with all three Pakistan bowlers going at more than eight runs an over.
England skipper Morgan wasn’t to be left out in the mayhem with the southpaw amassing an unbeaten 71 off 48 deliveries.
PAKISTAN FALL SHORT DESPITE FAKHAR’S BRILLIANCE
Chasing a mammoth 374, Pakistan were given an excellent start by their openers with Fakhar Zaman finding form after what has been a lean period for him. The left-hander took the attack to England right from the start and kept Pakistan abreast of the asking rate through valuable partnerships with first Imam-ul-Haq and then Babar Azam.
Bringing up his fourth ODI century off just 84 deliveries, Fakhar looked to be in the mood for a second double ton in the format before his 138-run blitz was brought to an end by an England review.
The opener’s brilliance was then backed up by Asif Ali who made a strong case for his selection to Pakistan’s World Cup squad as a finisher down the order. The right-hander dealt primarily in sixes and whacked four of them while registering his second ODI fifty.
Through their heroics, the visitors were on course to pull off the second highest chase in ODI history but David Willey struck two crucial late blows by dismissing Asif Ali and Imad Wasim in successive overs.
That left Sarfraz Ahmed and Co with too much to do in the final two overs as a valiant Pakistan effort fell just short of the finish line.
Jos Buttler: 110 not out (55)
Jason Roy: 87 (98)
Fakhar Zaman: 138 (106)
Babar Azam: 51 (52)
Asif Ali: 51 (36)
All eyes are currently fixed on whether the Barbados-born Archer will find a place in England’s final 15-man squad for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup after the pacer was handed his ODI debut against Ireland recently.
While calls for Archer’s potential World Cup inclusion continues to gather momentum, Broad feels Archer will also be a great asset for England to have in their quest to regain the Ashes urn.
“I can’t see a way that Jofra doesn’t play some sort of role in that Ashes series,” Broad was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“He has the rhythm, the style, the pace. He generates pace with ease, which is always exciting as a fast bowler. He has everything you would want in a fast bowler to succeed at the top level.
“He’s got the character to play at the top level. I’ve seen him run in all day when things don’t quite go his way, which is a good sign. I hope he’s in front of The Oval pavilion lifting the Ashes urn come September because he’s a very exciting cricketer.”
Broad’s own Test place could be under threat should Archer get an Ashes call up but the 32-year-old believes England’s gruelling schedule in the coming months will result in plenty of rotation among the pacers.
“There is a huge amount of cricket from that Ireland Test on July 24 to the middle of September and the end of the Ashes,” Broad stated.
“So you’re going to need a battery of fast bowers. The likes of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Archer – all members of the ODI squad at present – are all potentially going to play a lot of cricket over the next two months leading into a ridiculous amount of cricket in the period after that.
“We’ll need a rotation of bowlers.”
Archer has so far played one T20I and two ODIs since becoming eligible to represent England.