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When Pakistan put a dent in England’s self-esteem – Almanack

England v Pakistan, 2019 WC
by Richard Whitehead 2 minute read

After being blown away by the West Indies quicks in their 2019 World Cup opener, Pakistan bounced back emphatically to upset the hosts and tournament favourites England in a high-scoring affair at Trent Bridge. Here’s Richard Whitehead’s report from the 2020 Wisden Almanack.

England v Pakistan
Match 6, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
Trent Bridge, Nottingham
June 3, 2019

If Bangladesh lit a spark under the tournament, Pakistan doused it in petrol. Roared on by their raucous support, they rediscovered the untrammelled qualities that make them so compelling, and put a dent in England’s self-esteem. It made for a stunning spectacle – and there was even a sprinkling of combustible moments, invoking the historic enmity that defines this fixture.

After 11 ODI defeats in a row, including a 4–0 thumping by England, Pakistan would have been entitled to feel cowed. But there was a mood swing in the first over, when one of two fours hit by Fakhar Zaman off Woakes came via a misfield by Morgan. It set the tone for a slipshod fielding display. The nadir came when Roy grassed a skyer at long-off after Mohammad Hafeez, on 14, mistimed Rashid. Hafeez went on to hit 84, while Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed also contributed half-centuries; Woakes’s four catches were an England ODI record for a non-wicketkeeper.

Such was England’s form – they had not failed in a home run-chase since September 2015 – that a target of 349 did not seem terrifying. Taking a leaf out of South Africa’s book, Pakistan opened with a leg-spinner, and in his second over Shadab Khan trapped Roy on the sweep, a wasted review compounding the error. But from 118 for four, Root and Buttler put on 130 in 17 overs, both reaching hundreds, the first of the tournament – Root from 97 balls, Buttler from 75 (for 15 days, England’s fastest at a World Cup).

But both fell soon after and, with Pakistan’s fans cranking up the volume, their bowlers suffocated England’s late middle order. Both sides were warned for throwing the ball in on the bounce, prompting Root and Buttler to mutter about its condition. It really was just like old times.

First published in the 2020 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

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