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If Thursday’s nine-wicket win showed off the depth, this victory was an indication of how deep the aggressive message sent by Eoin Morgan runs. They doggedly stuck to England’s brand of cricket – despite many of them never being a squad under Morgan before.
And if Thursday was all about a few individuals – most of all Saqib Mahmood – the load was shared this time. Mahmood bowled beautifully again; Lewis Gregory was excellent with bat and ball, picking up three wickets; Phil Salt and James Vince shared a thrilling stand.
It was an entertaining contest, in which Pakistan played their part. Not least Hasan Ali, who picked up a superb five-wicket haul in England’s total of 247, then smashed 22 runs in four balls as Pakistan stumbled on their way to 195.
When Dawid Malan and Zak Crawley, whose fifties had completed the victory on Thursday, both fell for ducks in the first overs of the match, it would have been easy for England to go into their shells, especially as the conditions – after a 90-minute rain delay that had lost the game three overs per side – were bowler friendly.
It had been a great toss for Babar Azam to win, and his reward was Malan edging to second slip at the end of a difficult first over against Hasan Ali, then Crawley been bowled by a 90mph yorker from Shareen Shah Afridi, first ball.
Salt, who had attacked from the very first over, and Vince, however, were unperturbed. They cracked on and, at the end of the 10-over opening powerplay, English had reached 72 for two. Salt was particularly aggressive, lashing pulls and drives, while Vince looked the player England hoped for at the 2019 World Cup. He crunched cuts and drives and, despite the early wickets, England’s run-rate was above seven an over.
With Pakistan sticking with seamers once the powerplay ended, the pair continued to half-centuries (Salt’s took 41 balls, Vince’s 36) in the 14th over. But Babar immediately turned to his spinners, which slowed England. Saud Shakeel bowled Salt behind his legs, then a Shadab Khan googly did for Vince (who never emerged to field due to a foot injury).
Ben Stokes, the captain, was clearly determined to play the England way. Having reverse-swept then pulled Shadab for four, and launched Shakeel for six, he tried to lump Hasan down the ground, but was bowled. In his next over, Shakeel bowled John Simpson and had Craig Overton caught behind.
England were 160 for seven, having lost five for 42, and had two men at the crease who had never batted in an ODI – but remained unbowed. Lewis Gregory led the recovery with 40, in a fine stand of 69 with Brydon Carse. Even when Haris Rauf returned to dismiss both men, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson added a few more valuable runs for the last wicket.
England had scrambled their way to 247, which looked very competitive. When Imam-ul-Haq nicked Gregory behind in his first over, and Mahmood picked up Babar and Mohammad Rizwan, it looked very strong indeed.
The dangerous Fakhar Zaman never got going and fell during a fine Craig Overton spell that also did for Sohaib Maqsood. Gregory returned to pick up the sprightly Shadab, while Parkinson had Faheem Ashraf brilliantly caught down the legside by Simpson.
Hasan teed off, while Shakeel stuck in, but the game was gone for Pakistan. Hasan became Carse’s first ODI wicket, while Shakeel maiden a fifty in a resilient stand with Afridi. With Parkinson holding his nerve, it was too little, too late. England’s impressive victory gives them a wonderful opportunity to hand out some more debuts in a dead rubber at Edgbaston on Tuesday.