By Ryan Moran

  • Pakistan 1-0: England 216, Pakistan 217-4. Morgan 76, Topley 9-1-26-3.
  • England 1-1: England 283-5, Pakistan 188. Hales 109, Woakes 8-0-33-4.
  • England lineup unchanged in first two games.

SHARJAH, UAE – With two matches left in this ODI series, England aim to emulate their success in the second game which featured a maiden 50 over century for Alex Hales.

In a fairly unsuccessful tour currently in the UAE, the Three Lions would have hoped to mirror their success against Pakistan in 2012 with an emphatic 4-0 victory. With two games gone and two remaining, the series remains in the balance at 1-1 with admirable displays from a number of individuals over the two games already played.

Trevor Bayliss’ side batted first in the opening game of the series and the same problems highlighted that there is still work to be done as the tourists were reduced to 14-3. Jason Roy and Joe Root were dismissed for ducks, bowled and LBW respectively while Hales fell for 10 being caught at slip off Anwar Ali who also sent Root back to the pavilion. A captain’s innings, partnered by James Taylor, pulled Eoin Morgan’s side towards a respectable score with 76 runs in a partnership of 133, leaving the field with the score at 147-4.

Taylor was dismissed for 60 after Jos Buttler had been run out for a measly one run in a spell of 33-5 from the loss of Morgan down to Adil Rashid. A ninth wicket stand of the same amount of runs restored some credibility as Chris Woakes produced 33 runs only for David Willey to fall for 13 and Reece Topley making a partnership of three, Woakes run out to end the innings two balls early with a score of 216 to protect.

On the bowling perspective, Pakistan’s wasn’t too dissimilar from England’s start losing Azhar Ali and Bilal Asif with 15-2 displayed on the scoreboard, LBW the verdict for both openers with Topley the protagonist. The opening bowler was once again in the limelight, Rashid catching Younus Khan on the batsman’s last ODI appearance for nine runs, the hosts now 41-3. The fielding team now with the upper hand to kick on and take a 1-0 series lead. Inconsistency with the bowling from Woakes and Willey as well as varied bowling lengths from Rashid lacked any attacking threat as Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik punished the bad balls with Hafeez beautifully driving the ball on many occasions, Malik fell to break a 70 run partnership, caught by Roy off Moeen Ali.

Hafeez moved to an unbeaten 102 with new batting partner Babar Azam reaching 62 to claim victory in the first match in the series with an unbroken partnership of 106 earned Pakistan their first victory, their second in eight games in the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Hales, Root and Roy all surpassed 50 runs in their side’s attempts to regain ground in the series. Woakes and Willey took a combined total of seven wickets, with Pakistan reduced to 188 when chasing 283 posting a 95 run defeat with 25 balls left in the game. Nottinghamshire batsman Hales the pick of the batsman with his 109 in 117 balls set England on their way to a strong 283-5 with the batting lineup as a whole proving a much tougher nut to crack at the second attempt. The bowling attack had to work hard for their wickets, Wahab Riaz making the first breakthrough 17.3 overs in, 102-1, Malik catching as Roy tried to hit over the top.

A 100 partnership between Hales and Root put England firmly in control with the opener paddle sweeping to bring up his first 50 over century. With 109 scored, Hales was stumped off Iftikhar Ahmed his first ODI wicket. Control switched back into the bowler’s hands as only 56 runs were scored in the last 10 overs for the loss of three more wickets. This left Pakistan 50 overs to reach 284.

Willey started a Pakistan collapse at the start of the innings, taking the wickets of Azam for four, LBW, and the key wicket of Hafeez for a duck, caught behind. Mistimed pull shots from Ahmed and Malik earned Woakes his first ODI wickets in seven games. The all-rounder then bowled Ali to claim his third wicket of the innings as the hosts’ chances of winning slowly drifted away. Ali however stood firm alongside Sarfraz Ahmed for a partnership of 65.  Sarfraz suffered the same fate as Hafeez, caught behind off of Woakes’ bowling for 64 as the lower order couldn’t prevent a loss, all out for 188 with 25 balls remaining.

After partnering Hales at the crease, Roy aims of producing the same calibre of performance with two games remaining in the series. The Surrey batsman spoke to the ECB in the build up to the third match about his mindset when it comes to reaching high scores like Hales achieved:

“It’s a mindset thing, starting again on 50 – getting there, and then saying ‘Right, now I’m on nought’.

“I need to maintain the positive mindset, but then crack on.”

With the series in the balance at 1-1, Tuesday’s encounter in Sharjah on the 17th November allows the victor to take a lead into the final match.

Main Image Credit: Marwan Naamani/Getty

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