England beat Pakistan by 54 runs in the 5th and final ODI of the Series
England won the toss and decided to bat against Pakistan in the 5th and final ODI of the Series at Emerald Headingley, Leeds today.
England 351 - 9 (Joe Root 84, Eoin Morgan 76; Shaheen Afridi 4-82, Imad Wasim 3-53)
Pakistan 297 (Babar Azam 80, Sarfaraz Ahmed 97; Chris Woakes 5-54, Adil Rashid 2-54)
Result - England won by 54 runs
A comfortable 54-run win by England over Pakistan at Leeds, to wrap up the series 4-0 is a fair result and sends a clear message of the home side being a strong favourite to lift the World Cup this summer. Just when the game was well poised, its smart field work titled the balance in their favour.
Winning the toss in overcast conditions, England captain Eoin Morgan fancied making first use of yet another wicket full of runs. The Headingley pitch tailor-made for the hard hitting in-form top order England batsmen could only be combated with Pakistan bowlers and fielders needing to be at their very best. James Vince kicked off the contest with two fours off Hasan Ali and England were off to yet another flyer. Pakistan is yet to take a wicket in the first 10 overs in this series and call for Mohammed Amir to be included now gaining more strength although he too has been in no sort of form.
With a flurry of boundaries off all three pacemen – including two teenagers Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain in their first season of international cricket - England were sitting pretty and helped along the way with off targeted bowling and a series of fielding fumbles had raced to 95-1 in the first 10 overs of powerplay that featured no less than 17 fours. The batsmen found the boundaries too frequently before Vince (33 off 32 balls) was out to a short ball to give Pakistan some hope. Local boy Joe Root in sublime touch as the 100 came up in 10.2 overs but Bairstow with 32 off 21 balls too missed out.
England were asked to rebuild and for a change were restrained by Pakistan but not for too long as Root and Morgan added 117 runs in 18.1 overs with relative ease. Morgan especially chose the right deliveries to go aerial route and smashed five huge sixes in his rapid 76 off just 63 balls. Root too was livid with himself of throwing away a chance to score a hundred when having reached 84 off 73 balls, he miscued a pull to be caught near the boundary.
England’s run-rate rarely dipped below 7 runs per over and with the score having reached 222-2 in the 30th over, they were surely well on their way to a total beyond 400. Pakistan looking desperately out of sorts in the field clawed back by picking up wickets through Afridi bending his back and slow left-arm Imad Wasim, staging a good comeback, after poor start. Imad had been hit for two sixes in an over by Morgan but hit back with two crucial wickets of Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali, inside three balls to finish with 3-53 off his 10 overs.
There were few more bouncer and yorkers on show today and by taking wickets in the middle overs, Pakistan restricted England to 47 runs in the last 5 overs and even more important equation of picking up six wickets and giving away only 96 runs in the last 15. A massive improvement from Pakistan bowling unit
Afridi, although at times wayward, kept coming back and ended with 4-82 off 10 overs. The previous highest ODI total on this ground was 339 and England, overcoming the middle order wobble, still managed to take it to 351-9, helped no doubt with Tom Curran’s cheeky unbeaten 29 off 15 balls that featured an scoop off Afridi’s full toss, over the wicket-keeper for a six.
Chasing 352, Pakistan got off to a worst possible start after Chris Woakes, picked up three wickets without conceding a run. Fakhar Zaman’s exit for a third ball duck was a blow Pakistan could ill afford chasing such a big total and it also resulted in a quite start. Woakes one of the best new white ball bowlers in the world, send back both Pakistan openers and added Mohammad Hafeez to his tally, whilst given three slips by the captain.
Babar is in such good touch that he could put three wickets out of his mind and six produced boundaries of high quality to keep his side in the game as the score stood at 55-3 after 10 overs in contrast to England’s 95-1. He brought up his 50 off 59 balls and with good rotation of strike with skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, saw the team total reach 100 in 18.3 overs.
Having come together in crisis, Babar and Sarfraz paced their partnership well and slowly but surely looked like posing a serious threat. Sarfraz having made up his mind to go on the attack, lost his partner Babar (80 off 83 balls, 9 fours and a six) to brilliant piece of fielding. Babar sent back by his captain, failed to reach home as Butler’s throw was gathered by bowler Rashid Adil, who back flipped to break the stumps. A fighting 146-run stand for the 3rd wicket came to an end.
England’s fielding is at par with any side in world cricket for after Babar, Shoaib Malik was out to a diving one-handed catch by Rashid and soon after Sarfraz departed, run out by wicket-keeper Butler’s presence of mind, after his brilliant 97 off 80 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. He was Pakistan’s last hope for it brought two new batsmen at the crease and required rate above 9 runs an over.
Hard-hitting Asif’s dismissal in the 40thover was not very smart for he miss-pulled a catch to deep mid-on, knowing fully well he was the side’s last recognized batsman. It must be added that Asif, with two-year old daughter Noor Fatima’s on-going cancer treatment on his mind, could not have been expected to be at his absolute best. Sadly the news of her passing away in USA was confirmed after the match.
The 47-run last wicket stand between Afridi and Hasnain off 6.4 overs was good fun and spoiled it a bit for England but the outcome of the match was never in question at any stage as Pakistan suffered its 10th defeat in the last 11 ODIs. England taking the five-match series 4-0 and its star paceman Woakes with 5-54 to his credit, winning the Man of the Match award.
It is to be said that ICC’s drive to uniform pitches all around the world, for white ball cricket, is set to take the bowling variety out of the equation and followed by declining crowd interest in limited overs international cricket. There is no such thing as ‘local’ conditions anymore as the preparation of the pitches do not rely solely on local soil. At this rate limited-overs cricket would become pretty monotonous and predictable to a conventional follower. The use of two balls in 50-overs’ cricket has backfired and an urgent review of this particular ruling will be required, straight after the World Cup, to keep the ‘poor bowlers’ in the contest.
England - Jonny Bairstow, James Vince, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan(c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler(wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, David Willey, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid
Pakistan - Fakhar Zaman, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfaraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Hassan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain
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