Pakistan bounce back with 14-run win over England

Joe Root (107 off 104) and Jos Buttler’s (103 off 76) centuries were of no use as England suffered a 14-run defeat against Pakistan at the Tent Bridge here on Monday.

Chasing an imposing 349-run target, the hosts could manage 334/9 in the allotted 50 overs, thanks to Wahab Riaz, who scalped 3/82 while Shadab Khan and Mohammad Amir also bagged couple of wickets each.

Root and Buttler were involved in a crucial 130-run fifth wicket stand, but in the end their valiant efforts failed to take England across the finishing line. The former’s innings was decorated with 10 boundaries and a six, while Buttler’s knock included nine fours and two hits into the stands.

England lost opener Jason Roy early as leg-spinner Shadab caught him plumb in front in the third over with just 12 runs on the board. Jonny Bairstow and Root then played some sensible cricket, propelling their side past the 50-run mark in 7.2 overs.

Ten runs later, Riaz delivered the crucial breakthrough by dismissing Bairstow for 32. The short of a length delivery moved away from the batsman before taking a slight edge that landed in the safe hands of Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed behind the stumps.

New batsman and England skipper Eoin Morgan could only manage 9 runs while star all-rounder Ben Stokes too was dismissed cheaply for 13, thanks to some disciplined bowling by the Green Brigade.

Root and Buttler then frustrated the visitors with their fighting partnership and at one stage it looked as if the duo would run away with the match.

The two took England past the 200-run mark in 31.5 overs before Root notched up his ton in the 38th over. However, with their side two short of 250, Shadab came up with the much-needed breakthrough, as Root misread a quicker delivery and ended up giving a simple catch to Mohammed Hafeez at third-man.

Buttler continued to trouble the Pakistan bowlers before falling victim to Amir in the 45th with England still 61 runs away from the target.

Moeen Ali (19) and Chris Woakes (21) tried their best to steer the hosts home, but their efforts fell flat in front of some inspired bowling by the Pakistan bowlers.

Earlier, Pakistan looked a different side from the one that surrendered to the West Indies in their opening game of the tournament as their batsmen put up a clinical performance to help the team post 348/8 on board.

Hafeez was the top scorer with a 62-ball 84 while Babar Azam (63 off 66) and Sarfraz Ahmed (55 of 44) too chipped in with important contributions.

The Pakistan batsmen were bounced out by the West Indies pacers for a meagre 105 in less than 22 overs in their first match on Friday. In stark contrast, it took spinner Moeen Ali to provide the first breakthrough for England after openers Fakhar Zaman (36 off 40) and Imam-Ul-Haq (44 off 58) helped Pakistan stamp their authority early on.

Fakhar and Imam put up an opening stand of 82 runs before Moeen drew the former out of his crease in the 15th over with a delivery that drifted in from around the wicket. The turn took the ball past the batsman and wicketkeeper Buttler took the bails off in a flash.

Moeen then dismissed Imam six overs later, thanks to a brilliant catch by Woakes who had to run about 20 yards and dive to his left at the long-off boundary.

However, Azam and Hafeez plundered 88 runs in the next 12 overs before the former became the third man to fall to Moeen. Hafeez then found company in Safraz Ahmed as the pair put on 80 runs for the fourth wicket.

While there were no significant partnerships after that, the combined effort of Asif Ali (14), Hasan Ali (10) and Shadab Khan (10) meant that Pakistan finished their essay just two short of the magical 350-run mark.

Joffra Archer, who was the standout bowler in England’s first game against South Africa, cut a sorry figure as he leaked 79 runs in his 10 overs without taking a wicket. Mark Wood picked up 2 wickets while Woakes scalped 3.

Brief scores: Pakistan 348/8 in 50 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 84, Babar Azam 63; Moeen Ali 3/50) beat England 334/9 in 50 overs (Joe Root 107, Jos Buttler 103; Wahab Riaz 3/82) by 14 runs


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