Pakistan fell 12 runs short of securing a memorable win over England in the second ODI in Southampton on Saturday, mustering 361 runs in response to the hosts’ 374-run target.
The tourists needed 19 runs off the final over but managed just six, thanks to some excellent death bowling by an otherwise expensive Chris Woakes (72-1 in 9 overs) as the pairing of captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and Hassan Ali failed to get their side over the line. Despite the defeat, few would point fingers at a batting unit that had been given the task of chasing a mammoth total.
Notable strugglers batting second, the Men in Green came within a whisker of the the target thanks to a sublime knock by opener Fakhar Zaman (138 off 106 balls) and 51-run innings each by Babar Azam and Asif Ali. Ali’s 36-ball knock deserved special acclaim as it featured four maximums and helped bring the run rate under control tremendously. Skipper Sarfaraz contributed an unbeaten 31-ball 42 but it was not enough to put his team 1-0 ahead in the five-match series.
Instead, it’s the hosts that have drawn first blood in the series, whose first match had failed to produce a result courtesy rain. Earlier, Jos Buttler’s stunning 50-ball century had taken England to 373 for three. Buttler’s 110 not out featured nine sixes, including a straight drive off Hasan Ali that took him to three figures. Such was Buttler’s command that his second fifty took him a mere 18 balls, with the new father making a ‘rocking the baby’ gesture to celebrate bringing up a century that also included four fours. An extraordinary ‘inside out’ six off Hasan over long-off was arguably the pick of his shots, although a pull off Shaheen Shah Afridi that cleared the rope and took him into the 90s was almost as impressive. Together with England captain Eoin Morgan (71 not out) he shared an unbroken partnership of 162. It was an encouraging display by the World Cup hosts just a few weeks from the start of the tournament and further proof of their progress as an ODI side. Saturday’s total was the 35th time since their miserable first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup that England, now top of the ODI rankings, had posted a total in excess of 300 — a feat they had achieved only 34 times in total prior to that tournament. A Pakistan attack missing the ill Mohammad Amir took a pounding, with Hasan conceding 81 runs from his maximum 10 overs and Afridi 80. Earlier, Jason Roy (87) and Jonny Bairstow (51) laid a platform for the innings with an opening stand of 115 after Morgan won the toss. Roy, fit following back trouble that kept him out of Wednesday’s washed out opener of a five-match series at his Oval home ground, hit medium-pacer Faheem Ashraf for two huge sixes — a drive over long-on followed by an extravagant uppercut over extra-cover. But the return of left-arm quick Afridi for a second spell saw Pakistan make the breakthrough. Bairstow pulled him for a boundary to complete a 44-ball fifty. But the next ball saw Bairstow fail to pull down and a leaping Fakhar Zaman at deep backward square leg held a good catch at the second attempt. Following a brief rain break, Roy fell in sight of what would have been his eighth ODI hundred when he miscued a pull off Hasan to mid-on. Test captain Joe Root made 40 before he holed out, his exit paving the way for Buttler’s blistering innings. Amir is sitting this match out as he is suffering from a viral infection and will be replaced by Yasir Shah. England also made changes in their line up, leaving out rising star Jofra Archer and has been replaced by left-arm quick David Willey. Opener Jason Roy, who had missed the opening match of the series due to back spasm, has also returned to the team. All-rounder Moeen Ali, who sat out the first match with a rib problem, is back in the team as well. Team officials had always planned that this five-match series would act as a final audition for places in tournament hosts England’s 15-man squad for the World Cup, which star