ENGLAND are in a strong position leading Pakistan 2-1 in the five-match ODI series in the UAE, after a disappointing performance saw them lose the test series 2-0.
Having lost their last one-day series to World Cup winners Australia, England were looking for some success in the run up the 2017 Champions Trophy being held on home soil. The series didn’t get off to the best of starts as England collapsed to poultry 216 all out despite finding themselves 147-3 after captain Eoin Morgan (76) and James Taylor (60) both made solid half-centuries. England proceeded to lose four wickets for a mere 14 runs before 7ft Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Irfan mopped up the tail, taking 3-35.
Having rested premier fast bowlers Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, the new ball was given to the inexperienced Reece Topley. Topley justified his selection by reducing Pakistan to 41-3 and finished with career-best figures of 3-26, by far the pick of the England bowlers. However, an impressive 102* by the inform Mohammed Hafeez and 62* by the youngster Babar Azam led Pakistan to a simple six-wicket win, leaving England trailing after the first match.
England replied in impressive fashion with a long-awaited debut century by opener Alex Hales (102), who was supported well by his fellow top order batsman Jason Roy (54) , along with Joe Root (63). Pakistan were set 284 to win to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, but after going no less than five consecutive matches without a wicket, Chris Woakes rediscovered his mojo, taking 4-33, while latest Yorkshire signing David Willey also bowled well to take 3-25. Pakistan never found any rhythm in their chase and in spite of a fine 64 from keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, they were dismissed for 188, levelling the series 1-1.
Batting first for the first time in the series, Pakistan’s top order was filled with starts but no one managed to go on to make a significant score. Woakes continued his fine form to take another 4-for, and combined with Pakistan’s infamously poor running contributing three run-outs, they only managed a low 208 all out.
As the out-of-form Jos Buttler joined Taylor at the crease the match was in the balance after Shoaib Malik dismissed Morgan leaving England 93-4, still requiring 106 to win. Both Buttler (49*) and Taylor (67*) looked untroubled by the Pakistani bowling attack as both batsman remained unbeaten to give England a 2-1 lead in the series with two matches to play. After a disappointing World Cup campaign and ODI summer, an away series win will be a great success for this young, promising and exciting England team.
England received further good news recently from the other side of the world as their nemesis Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson announced his retirement from all international cricket. Johnson retires having taken 313 test wickets, fourth on the Australian all-time list behind legends Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee only. Having been mocked by the Barmy Army in the 2010-11 Ashes Series for his wayward bowling, Johnson showed unbelievable character to become lead tormentor in Australia’s 5-0 whitewash of Englnd in the 2013-14 series, bowling incredibly fast and accurately to take an incredible 37 wickets at a phenomenal average of 13.97. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time to celebrate as Australia still have the likes of the 25-year-old Mitchell Starc, who has just recently bowled the fifth-fastest recorded delivery in the history of the game at 99.7 mph.
England will take on Pakistan in the fourth ODI in Dubai this Friday looking for the win which would give them the series.
Featured image: The Independent