Pakistan came into the match against England in Trent Bridge with plenty of baggage. They had been blown away by the short-ball barrage of the West Indies at the same venue. They faced a pitch on which they had conceded 444 two years ago against England, the red-hot favourites in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. They had lost 11 consecutive completed ODI games. However, Babar Azam’s fifty, combined with Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfaraz Ahmed’s aggressive knocks and disciplined Pakistan bowling helped them snap their losing streak in style as they secured a 14-run win against England in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 clash in Trent Bridge.
In the series against England before the World Cup, Pakistan could not defend totals close to 350. However, in the pressure situation of a World Cup, Pakistan had notched up their second-highest total in the history of the tournament and England had to achieve a historic record to chase it down. They came close thanks to Buttler and Root’s centuries, but in the end, they were found just short.
South Africa had opened with leg spin in the opening game and Jonny Bairstow fell cheaply. Pakistan took a leaf out of Faf du Plessis’ book and opened with Shadab Khan. Despite getting hit for two boundaries, Roy was trapped LBW for 8. Jonny Bairstow struck some big blows but he fell to 32 as Pakistan’s spinners applied the pressure. Root though withstood the pressure and he proceeded to keep England in the game.
In the fifth over bowled by Mohammad Amir, Root edged a full ball and Babar Azam at slip put down a simple chance. At that time, Root was on 9 and he made Pakistan pay. Despite losing the aggressive Jonny Bairstow for 32, Root ensured he scored at a steady pace and his strike-rate was over 100 for most of the innings. The Yorkshire right-hander calmly notched up his fifty and despite losing Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan, Root found a great company in Jos Buttler.
With Buttler finding the boundary on a regular basis, Root found confidence by blasting a six off Shoaib Malik and the partnership with Buttler went past 100. Root neared his century when he pulled Hasan Ali to the deep square leg fence for a boundary and he quickly made progress through the nineties. Root reached his century in calm fashion by chopping Wahab Riaz to the off side and getting a single for his seventh century at home.
Buttler came into bat when Ben Stokes was dismissed by Shoaib Malik and he showed his intent by hammering a boundary and a six off Malik. Buttler batted aggressively and he survived a review when he missed a skidder from Shadab Khan and he capitalised by hammering Wahab Riaz for two boundaries.
Buttler notched up his fifty by hammering a six over deep midwicket off Shadab Khan. His confidence grew with two boundaries off Amir as he and Joe Root shared a partnership in excess of 100. Root reached his century first and although the England Test skipper fell for 107, Buttler carried on and kept England in the hunt. Buttler reached his landmark with a blazing four off Amir to wide long off but he fell immediately when he top-edged a short ball to Riaz at backward point to fall for 103.
Those two wickets stole the momentum and despite some hits from Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes, Wahab Riaz effectively ended the contest when he took both Moeen and Woakes in the same over to ensure Pakistan had gotten back in the World Cup.
Earlier, Pakistan notched up 348/8, their second-highest score in World Cups thanks to a brilliant knock of 84 from Mohammad Hafeez and attacking fifties from Sarfaraz Ahmed and Babar Azam. Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul Haq laid a solid opening platform and that allowed Azam to show his flair. Hafeez stole the show with some clinical hitting and Sarfaraz, aided by some woeful England fielding in the death overs, contributed yet another fifty.
Before the match, Sarfaraz had dismissed the West Indies performance as a one-off. After this performance, the mercurial beauty that is Pakistan is well and truly back.