Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik’s sublime 163-run partnership proved crucial as Pakistan avoided a series whitewash with a four-wicket victory over England in Sunday’s fifth one-day worldwide.
Is one innings good enough to warrant a good series? “We lost a game today but we’ve been outstanding in this series”.
Ben Stokes’ 75 off 76 balls was his highest ODI score but he had to work hard when he came in against the spinners and was nine not out after 28 balls.
England had only ever won one previous series in this format 5-0 – against Zimbabwe back in 2001/02 – and never on home soil.
All-rounder Shoaib Malik and left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir came back for Pakistan after sitting out at Headingley.
Morgan talked up England’s commitment to an aggressive approach in ODI cricket.
“I think it’s exciting”, he said. He could have done more damage to the England side, but Irfan’s hamstring injury reduced him only to his first spell of five overs that bagged him two wickets at 12.5 apiece. “South Africa, India as well”, pointed out Morgan. Mickey Arthur hasn’t shied away from some honesty during this series – he termed the last four matches “eye-opening” after Headingley, which could mean bad news for a number of players – and sees next year’s event as a significant target amid the rebuilding. “We’re disappointed to lose, but I don’t think it was that bad a performance”.
England batsman Joe Root has surged into the top five of rankings for the first time after a stellar performance against Pakistan, which earned him the player of the series award.
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali added: “We wanted to finish on a high…” We just want to be better at executing the shots we want to play so we can post 350.
It said that the team management had chose to retain Hassan Ali for the T20 worldwide against England on September 7 at Manchester.
The hosts for next year’s Champions Trophy have been praised universally for their transformation in limited overs cricket since their first round exit at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
However, Pakistan’s bowling coach Azhar Mahmood is hopeful of good show by Pakistan in next games. But, despite suggestions that he might step down from the ODI captaincy, Azhar said he had no such intention: “I got a few 80s (against England), so that will really help my confidence”. “Leading by example is very important I will try and keep that form in coming series so that will help the team”.
“It was a much-needed victory and chasing 300 gave us much satisfaction”.
But all-rounder Ali, speaking in Cardiff yesterday ahead of England’s fifth and final one-day worldwide against Pakistan in the Welsh capital today, said: “If selected, I’ll definitely go”.