England cantered to another win in the second one-day international against Pakistan at Lord’s on Saturday.
The margin may look close but the consummate ease with which the hosts brought up a four-wicket win once again highlighted the vast difference in quality and approach which was on show at Lord’s.
Wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed (105) and Imad Wasim (63 not out) anchored Pakistan’s fightback from a precarious 2-3 after 3.1 overs but their total of 251 all out was never hard to chase on a docile looking batting despite Mohammad Amir giving an ideal start, bowling Jason Roy with the second delivery of the innings.
After Alex Hales fell for 14, Joe Root () and Eoin Morgan (68) added 112 to remove any doubts of failure. That also brought Morgan in form with a resolute half-century after 12 innings without it.
Root holed out for 108-ball 89 with five fours was one of three wickets which fell after 200 was crossed but still the hosts never looked in difficulty.
Sarfraz’s hundred, his first against a Test laying nation, reminded how badly he was treted in the 2015 World Cup when he sat out the first four matches and time was wasted on using Umar Akmal doing the dual job. When given his first chance Sarfraz scored 49 in a must-win game against South Africa and then topped up with a brilliant hundred against Ireland to guide Pakistan into the quarter-final.
It also epitomises the fact that why Pakistan slumped in one-day cricket – wrong selection and lack of planning.
That total, nine short of Pakistan’s 260-6 in the first match at Southampton, looked well below what could have been threatening for a boomerang England batting.
Pakistan’s hopes of a free-flowing top order which could yield some runs were dashed as soon as the match started. They lost three early wickets in the space of ten balls for no runs and that made the progress more difficult.
Sami Aslam, one of three changes in the side, was unlucky to be given out on referal when the original decision from umpire Marias Erasmus was not out. The snicko showed the edge but it seemed it didn’t hit the glove.
From 2-1 it became 2-2 when Mark Wood cut one sharp into Sharjeel Khan and dislodged the off-stump. Skipper Azhar Ali was caught behind off a sharp outswinger as he could do little to a peach of a delivery. At 2-3 it remained Pakistan’s disastrous four wickets down for one run in the World Cup 2015 against the West Indies but it didn’t go that worse.
Sarfraz added 64 for the fourth wicket with Babar Azam (27) to avoid embarrassment of lowest total fears. Azam was once again unlucky when he was bowled off an inside edge which hit his boot and then the stump.
Shoaib Malik also helped add 59 for the fifth wicket but the senior man was again fell short on expectations, leaving the field after scoring just 28.
After Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur came down hard on 30-plus players and warned them to come to the party more often, Malik was left as the only 30-plus other than Azhar and Wahab Riaz in this team and once again left a lot to be desired.
Riaz was also toothless in his bowling – six matches with just two wickets to show — and may get an axe sooner than later.
Sarfraz became the first Pakistani batsman to score an ODI hundred at Lord’s when he glanced Plunkett for a boundary and in all faced 130 balls, hitting six fours. The innings got the much needed impetus when Imad Wasim hit a brilliant 70-ball 63 with five fours and six – his best in IDIs and helped add 77 for the sixth wicket.
For England two Ws – Woakes and Wood took three wickets apiece.
The series now moves to Nottingham where England can take an unbeatable lead on Wednesday.