England beat Pakistan four times in four games nine days before the start of the World Cup. They lived up to their status as a tournament favorite by sovereign defeating South Africa in the first leg.
The following day, Pakistan was banished from the West Indies for 105 and lost by seven wickets. They did not win in 12 ODIs.
So, it would have been quite predictable that Pakistan would win only two streaks away from its nightmare in a place where England has set two world records.
England had won the last 17 home games when they had beaten second place against Pakistan, including twice in the past month in major chases.
Of course, Pakistan has asked them to make a world cup record hunt (349), and of course they have failed – despite centuries for their two most important hitters, Joe Root and Jos Buttler.
It was a really brilliant ODI played in front of a crowd that sounded Pakistani in a minute, in the next English.
Pakistan showed yet again why it’s always a good idea to predict the unpredictable when it comes to their cricketing fortunes.#WeHaveWeWill #CWC19 #ENGvPAK Match Report ⬇️https://t.co/XJ6hAc2FUu pic.twitter.com/cabDJvjvqX— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) June 3, 2019
England’s most recent hit dominance is based on the powerplay dominance of the remarkable opening pair. At the World Cup, two teams opened with wrist spin and both were rewarded with an early wicket.
This time it was Jason Roy who swept Shadab Khan and took England’s critique – the end of a bad day at work. He and Jonny Bairstow can expect more equality on Saturday when they meet Bangladesh.
Bairstow also fell in power play and gently put Wahab Riaz in the shade. Neither Eoin Morgan nor Ben Stokes lasted long. They both fell on part time spin from Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik when Pakistan turned the screw. It could have been worse – Root was only at nine in the slip-up.
So Buttler came after 21.2 Overs to Root with 118 for four, which meant that England needed 231 of 172 balls. The victory was desperately unlikely; certainly impossible, if still a slip fell. In 130 runs with 105 balls this was not the case.
Buttler lifted the line as Root headed for a 15th ODI century, advancing to second place on England’s scoring charts in format. Buttler’s hundred of 75 balls was his eighth; The problem was that until then he had lost Root and everything was up to him.
He made a mistake to steer the ball back after reaching its century. Chris Woakes fled and England stayed alive until the final was over, but with Buttler the game really started.
England had a better day with the bat than in the field. The Pakistani skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed had promised that his team’s terrible implosion against the West Indies on Friday was only one incident.
He was right: throwing only two stripes across the stage looked like a distant memory. They flew out of the blocks and did not let up, reaching 348 for eight with substantial contributions from each of the top five.
England was untypically contentious in the field and disheveled in person. Roy dropped Mohammad Hafeez dreadfully on the 14th in the middle of the field and then threw the ball into the ground, whereupon a word came from the referees.
Roy, the star of a brilliant field play in the opener, later missed a chance while James Vince dropped a ball through his legs as a submarine. Root, usually so reliable, dropped four laps behind unguarded stumps and gave Sarfaraz a 40-ball-50.
Woakes had a bad day with the ball, but four good catches (most of a non-wicketkeeper in a World Cup match, the last came from his own bowling) were below average.
They also looked unusually impatient and irritable. Maybe it was the crowd that was not necessarily predominantly Pakistani in terms of number of employees, but in terms of noise.
By the time Woakes scored three goals at death, only Moeen and Mark Wood joined the team for Liam Plunkett and seemed to be able to score. It was a particularly busy day for regular strike bowlers Adil Rashid and Jofra Archer, who had none for 122 out of 15 overs.
Moeen picked up the first two wickets in his first spell and then returned to get Babar Azam for 63 in the first over his second. Wood finally picked up Hafeez for 84, then for the dangerous Asif Ali.
Despite the fall of the gates at death, Pakistan had enough. The main difference between this team and the one who lost to England last month was the return of the experience of Wahab and Mohammad Amir.
Both were great, whether on top or on the tail. So they are for everyone and enrich the World Cup without end.