Cardiff: Pakistan finally got hings right as the team’s batting clicked in the last ODI against England to help men-in-green achieve first win in the series, by four wickets, to avoid the embarrassing white-wash in the five-match series.
The duo of Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik added 163 runs for the 4th wicket, helping Pakistan reach the target at the loss of six wickets in 49th over, but not before suffering some late hiccups.
This was Pakistan’s first win, after four consecutive defeats in the series which England won by 4-1 margin.
Chasing the target of 303 runs, Pakistan received an early shock when the power-hitter Sharjeel Khan, while attempting to hit the ball over mid-on was caught by Mark Wood, off Chris Woakes’ delivery.
Sharjeel scored 10 runs off 16 deliveries as Pakistan lost the first wicket for 22 runs in fifth over.
But Babar Azam and Azhar Ali tried not to let Sharjeel’s wicket dent Pakistan’s momentum and continued to find boundaries. Both added 54 runs in 8.4 overs for the second wicket partnership to keep Pakistan in chase.
Mark Woods, however, removed both of them in the span of three deliveries to push Pakistan on back foot. First to be dismissed by him was Babar Azam who was out bowled after scoring 31 off 29 deliveries. After one ball, he removed Azhar Ali, caught by Bairstow behind the stumps, after scoring 33 off 37.
However, two back-to-back wickets didn’t halt Pakistan’s chase as Pakistan’s middle order batting looked comfortable for the first time in the series, making England’s bowler helpless.
Following two quick dismissals of Azhar Ali and Babar Azam, two new batsmen Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik took the charge and with solid partnership of 163 runs – Pakistan’s 6th best 4th wicket partnership – guided Pakistan to the commanding position in the match.
Sarfaraz Ahmed smashed one six and ten boundaries to score 90 off 73 deliveries to score his third fifty-plus individual score in the series, which also includes a century at Lord’s.
He fell short of ten runs in his third ODI century while attempting to hit the ball over the mid-on, but he misjudged the delivery from debutant Liam Dawson and was subsequently caught by Alex Hales.
Dawson got another breakthrough for England in his next over when he trapped Shoaib Malik with his spin and got him caught by Jason Roy at long-off, a ball after being smashed for six.
Mohammad Rizwan and Imaad Wasim batted responsibly towards the end to complete the task. Rizwan remained unbeaten after scoring 34, while Imad – who hit the winning boundary – scored 16 runs.
Earlier, Pakistan’s captain Azhar Ali won the toss and invited England to bat first and England, despite some good bowling by Pakistani pace duo comprising Hassan Ali and Mohammad Aamir, managed to post 302 for 9 wickets in 50 overs.
The home team rode on half centuries by Jason Roy and Ben Stokes, which provided it two good partnerships in the middle.
Jason Roy smashed two sixes and eight fours to score 87 off 89 deliveries. While Ben Stokes – after a slow start – accelerated to 76-ball-75 three sixes and five fours in his innings.
Pakistan’s Hassan Ali finished with his career best bowling spell of four wickets for 60 runs in his quota of ten overs.
Mohammad Aamir got three wickets for 50 runs.
With England winning the five-match ODI series 4-1, both teams will now head to Manchester for the one-off T20i game at the Old Trafford on Wednesday.
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily