Pakistan beat tournament favourites England in a thrilling run-fest at Trent Bridge, ending their 11-game losing streak, with Eoin Morgan slamming his side’s shoddy fielding display.
Despite Chris Woakes taking a World Cup-record four outfield catches, England produced one of their worst fielding performances in recent memory, with Pakistan banishing memories of their calamitous batting display against Windies by slamming 438-8, headlined by Mohammad Hafeez’s 62-ball 84.
Spectacular centuries from Joe Root (107) and Jos Buttler (103) – England’s fastest World Cup hundred – were in vain as a pumped-up Pakistan, as unpredictable as ever, produced an impressive all-round display, with most of their line-up finding their groove as Pakistan won by 12 runs.
“We thought 350 was in our grasp,” England captain Eoin Morgan said after the game. “Joe, Jos kept up in the game. If we had put a partnership together earlier in the innings we could have got over the line.
“We were outfielded today – it was the difference between the sides. Our batting and bowling will go up and down, but our fielding must be a constant. It has cost us 15-20 runs. The difference was the fielding.”
Bidding to secure a record run-chase, Jonny Bairstow nearly fell for another first-baller when Mohammad Amir angled one in-between bat and pad after a loose straight drive. The Yorkshireman (32) nicked off to Wahab Riaz, but it was Jason Roy – the man who spilled a dolly in the first innings – who departed first, trapped lbw by Shadab after an ill-timed sweep.
Early spin outsmarted England yet again; the impressive Shadab bowled three very dangerous overs up top, mimicking South Africa’s Pakistan-born leggie Imran Tahir, who removed Bairstow in the tournament opener on Thursday.
Joe Root was dropped by Babar Azam in slip, and the No.3 made them pay. Proceedings turned in Pakistan’s favour, however, when the moustachioed Hafeez, 38, deceived Morgan with a quicker one.
After Thursday’s hero Stokes nicked off, England’s finest stroke-maker, Root, was joined by chief destroyer Buttler, with 15 runs coming off the 25th over, including two maximums. Buttler did a trademark flick over the keeper’s head off Wahab before a glorious cover-drive appeased the traditionalists.
Buttler and Root coolly batted England into contention. The classy Yorkshireman reached three-figures in the 38th over – his 15th ODI hundred – with Buttler already in the seventies. The Barmy Army were roaring but were soon hushed when Root picked out backward-point off Shadab.
Moeen Ali looked jittery, but Buttler began to manoeuvre the field, robbing twos. England required over ten an over, but, on this ground – the same deck that has twice produced the record-highest ODI score for the home team – Buttler knew he didn’t have to tee-off just yet. He still managed to smash England’s quickest World Cup hundred (103 off 75), though, but picked out Wahab at short third man.
There were flying bats, wides, misfields and a six from Woakes, before England needed 30 from 15 balls. The atmosphere was tense, and it was Wahab who delivered with two in two, terminating Moeen’s troubled knock (19 from 20) before removing Woakes with one that climbed. The pacer then took a tidy catch at third man to dismiss Archer, which all but secured victory.
Earlier, England won the toss and elected to bowl on the record-breaking pitch where they amassed 481-6 against Australia last year and 444-3 against today’s opponents in 2016.
It was one of England’s worst all-round fielding performances under Morgan’s stewardship. The skipper himself, perhaps still perturbed by his finger injury, waved one to the boundary in the first over, with Root releasing four overthrows in the 46th over, undoing some fine work at point, to round-off a surprisingly lacklustre performance. Jason Roy’s spilling of Mohammad Hafeez – a routine grab at long-off – was the nadir. The batsman, on 14 at the time, would top-score with 84.
The number of mis-fields was akin to a village cricket match. Was it nerves in-front of a packed house in Nottingham? Was it the pressure of the favourites tag?
Chris Woakes didn’t catch the fielding bug, however. He produced four tidy catches including an heroic effort on the long-on boundary, which, had it not been for Stokes’ epic grab against the Proteas, would have been a contender for catch of the tournament.
After all the Jofra Archer fanfare, he returned figures of 0-79, with Mark Wood winning the speedster battle with 2-53, while Adil Rashid got hit out of the attack after conceding 43 from five overs. It didn’t help England’s sluggish over-rate either.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) June 3, 2019
Moeen Ali (3-50), who accounted for Pakistan’s top three, bowled very tidily, with Buttler taking a sharp stumping to dismiss Fakhar Zaman. Woakes took three wickets late on in the innings, but conceded 71 from his eight overs.
Imam-ul-Haq (44) and Fakhar Zaman (36) gave Pakistan early impetus, while Babar Azam (63) and Mohammad Hafeez (84) combined beautifully in the middle-order – the latter smacking two sixes and eight fours to fuel a strike-rate of 135.48. Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed produced an entertaining cameo, with a 44-ball fifty, to put Pakistan in a commanding position at the interval.