The tourist’s chase their first ODI series victory in Asia since 2012.
Sharjah, UAE – James Taylor’s unbeaten 67 in an unbroken 117 run partnership with Jos Buttler rescued victory as the tourist’s top order struggled to make an impact.
Two consecutive victories for the tourists piles the pressure on Pakistan to prevent their opposition from twice leaving the United Arab Emirates with a one day international series win. Both innings were dissimilar in the way the innings unfolded like a game of two halves, one side started with intent and quality while the other struggled to gain a foothold in the game struggling to deal with Pakistan’s masterclass of spin bowling. While the second half of both innings fared in similar fashion to how their opponents fared in the first half of their innings.
The hosts won the toss and decided to bat making a solid start to the innings, Babar Azam the only early dismissal hooking Chris Woakes to Adil Rashid off of a short delivery for 22, the first of four to fall to the all-rounder in the innings. At 92-1, batting first seemed a good decision in the hope of taking a lead into the final match in the series, until the second half of their innings unfolded.
Azhar Ali, Mohammad Rizwan and Shoaib Malik were all run out as Pakistan’s early surge ran out of steam and the wickets fell at regular intervals as Pakistan’s strong 92-2 plummeted to a weak 161-8. Five wickets fell for 29 runs, two of the three run outs in that period as Woakes cleaned out the tail with the exception of Wahab Riaz. The bowler proved tough to beat, producing an unbeaten 33 to claw a late revival from a miserable middle sector for the batting team. In contrast to Woakes, Moeen Ali’s bowling spell kept runs to a minimum with Pakistan unable to claim more than three runs an over from the all-rounder’s ten overs.
With 209 the target, the tourist’s couldn’t have asked for a worse start, the top four all watching from the stands with less than 100 runs combined to show for their efforts. Joe Root’s spell of few runs continued as his 11 runs left England 27-2 after the dismissal of Jason Roy. Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan pushed the batting team into a solid position, weathering the storm of spin bowling that has proved such an asset for Pakistan. In the space of six runs, both batsmen were back in the pavilion, Hales caught and Morgan bowled to bring the ever reliable Taylor and struggling Buttler to the forefront to steer the Three Lions to victory.
The second half turned the tables completely as the ever reliable Taylor, partnered by the under pressure Buttler, showed his quality especially against the dangerous spin to see England hold a lead going into the final game. Four wickets down at 93 runs was mirrored at 210 runs as Buttler’s case to retain his place was done no harm as the batsman scored an unbeaten 49 which could have been so different.
Buttler surpassed his 34 runs in four innings he scored in the test series with Pakistan in this one game however it wasn’t without a slice of luck. When you’re out of form you need that bit of luck to allow that change in fortune to start scoring runs and the wicketkeeper got just that as Sarfraz Ahmed missed a stumping opportunity that cost his side 49 runs with Buttler yet to score at that stage of the game. The Lancashire batsman rode the storm to push on towards 49 with his confidence building the longer he stayed at the crease, encapsulated by smashing the winning runs with a six over mid-wicket.
Buttler’s partner at the crease, Taylor, filled the shoes of the struggling Root who has failed to live up his recent form in the past year. Taylor’s credentials have risen tenfold as a result of the tour on both the test and one day circuit and this game did no harm for his claim to play on the international circuit. The batsman’s unbeaten 67 included two reverse sweeps to the boundary to help lift England from wreck and ruin to the road of victory along with his accomplice Buttler.
Morgan spoke to the ECB about their partnership in regards to the team’s progression:
“The partnership between Buttler and Taylor was exceptional,”
“I think it epitomises our learning culture that we’re trying to develop. Tonight they were right on the ball.
“They showed great positive intent and when an opportunity presented itself to take options under pressure they did it.”
On the bowling front, Woakes’ four wickets were key in the downfall firstly to break the opening partnership before 50 was put on by the opening pair of Azam and Ali with a short ball enticing Azam to pull the ball to Rashid on the boundary at square leg with Iftikhar Ahmed in the same way, Root taking the catch. Gohar was undone by a delivery just short of a length that the batsman edged to Buttler behind the stumps and Mohammad Irfan could not prevent Woakes claiming his sixth four wicket haul in ODI matches being bowled by the all-rounder to end the innings one ball early.
With one game remaining, England hold a 2-1 lead going into the final ODI on 20th November in Dubai.
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