Root, Morgan bat England to 2-0 lead

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Brief scores: Pakistan 251/10 in 49.5 overs (Sarfaraz Ahmed 105, Imad Wasim 63*; Chris Woakes 3-42, Mark Wood 3-46) lost to England 255/6 in 47.3 overs (Joe Root 89, Eoin Morgan 68; Wasim 2-38) by 4 wickets.

Joe Root (89) and Eoin Morgan (68) helped England chase down 252 with 15 balls to spare and take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series against Pakistan at Lord’s on Saturday (August 27). Sarfaraz Ahmed (105) and Imad Wasim (63 not out) ensured Pakistan recovered from an early wobble after opting to bat, but the century stand between the England duo meant the visitors finished second-best for the second time in the series.

Mohammad Amir gave Pakistan the best possible start when he got rid of Jason Roy on the second ball of England’s chase. Roy, trying to drive at a length delivery away from the body, got an inside edge that crashed onto the stumps. Root walked into a familiar situation and adapted with ease – driving beautifully off Hasan Ali to get the runs flowing. Right from the beginning, he played with great panache, at times walking towards the delivery and driving Hasan past mid-off.

Alex Hales at the other end, looked to play off Amir and was content defending him towards the packed off-side field. As expected, the runs dried up and the England opener felt the need to up the ante. However, his plan didn’t quite materialise. Trying to play a slog sweep against Imad Wasim, he missed a full length delivery and had his wood work disturbed.

While two early wickets gave Pakistan a chance, Eoin Morgan and Root batted Pakistan out of game. The pair scored 112 runs for the third wicket to put the hosts on course. When Morgan was dismissed, bowled by Wasim in the 31st over, England needed 105 more for a win.

The onus was on Root to guide the team home and arguably one of the best in the world at the moment, he soaked in the pressure magnificently. Unfazed by Morgan’s wicket and some late wobble into the game, he carried on to milk runs.

What Root needed was some support but the middle-order, though they looked promising on most parts, threw away their wickets. Jos Buttler (4) and Ben Stokes (42 off 30) fell in quick succession, while Moeen Ali (21 not out) just about managed to grind out the short-ball barrage.

Root eventually fell, much to the delight of the Pakistan fans, but was too little too late for their team’s chances. Trying to play a ball to the on side, Root got a leading edge and was caught at mid-off.

Though England were made to stretch a bit, their batting depth meant they chased down the target with relative ease.

Earlier, Sarfaraz resurrected Pakistan’s essay but they ended with another sub-par total. The wicketkeeper-batsman notched up his highest ODI score, but losing three early wickets with literally nothing on the board meant the visitors were forced to play catch-up for a significant amount of time.

Azhar Ali’s decision to bat first backfired as Chris Woakes nipped out Sami Aslam and the Pakistan captain. Sharjeel Khan was undone by a beauty from Mark Wood even before he could open his account. Pakistan’s top three batsmen were back in the hut with just two runs on the board.

Babar Azam and Sarfaraz started the recovery job with a sense of urgency. From 2 for 3, they lifted Pakistan to 66 for 4. Azam would’ve been expected to play second fiddle to Sarfaraz, but he did well not to get bogged down by the scoreboard pressure and contribute in equal measure. The promising stand came to an end when Azam was bowled by Liam Plunkett in the 14th over.

Pakistan were still in troubled waters when Shoaib Malik walked in to join Sarfaraz. They scored 59 runs together but the real blitz that propelled Pakistan came from Imad Wasim.

The Wasim-Sarfaraz collaboration fetched Pakistan 77 in 16.3 overs. Sarfaraz got to his century in the 42nd over with a flick off Plunkett to the fine-leg fence and followed it up with an elaborate celebration – he jumped in the air, pumped his fist, off came the the helmet and then emerged a wide smile. The effort brought Pakistan back in the game and gave them a chance to fight their way back.

Wasim raced to his half-century by hammering a six and two boundaries off Plunkett in the 46th over. However, Sarfaraz and Wasim’s best knocks in their brief ODI careers so far wasn’t enought to halt England on the day.

 

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