England cruised to a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over Pakistan (D/L) in the 1st ODI at The Ageas Bowl to take a 1-0 lead.
Pakistan came into this game in a great mood and quite literally on ‘top of the world’. They recently drew 2-2 in the test series against England, earning themselves the status of the No. 1 ranked test side in the world.
Though, in one-day cricket they still have a lot of improvement to make and catching up to do. Pakistan sit ninth in the ODI rankings having only won one ODI series against a top-eight ranked side since 2014, with one of the defeats coming against England in the UAE last year. As a result they were looking to avenge that defeat on Wednesday.
The talk was about England going in with three spinners for the first one-day international in Adil Rashid, Mooen Ali and Liam Dawson. England, though, ended up going with the two spinners not three as Liam Dawson missed out, the rest of the team being made up of stars returning from injury, such as captain Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood.
Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first at The Ageas Bowl in Hampshire. The early signs were that this could prove to be a good decision with the openers putting on a 1st wicket partnership worth 25 runs. With England looking for a wicket to end the partnership, Mark Wood delivered after Sharjeel top-edged to Buttler for 16 runs.
The England bowlers continued to put pressure on the Pakistan batsmen after the early wicket, being agonisingly close to another breakthrough shortly after the first but they were unable to take their chance with Alex Hales dropping Azhar Ali off Chris Woakes. Captain Morgan reviewed an LBW shout soon after on Mohammad Hafeez who was given not out and the decision stayed.
‘Golden Arm’ Joe Root came into the attack and as like normal he took a wicket early in his spell – Morgan’s decision proved fruitful. At a key time in the match, Hafeez top-edged a sweep straight to Hales at deep square leg. These wickets put England ahead in the game and were furthermore aided by Pakistan’s inability to adapt to one-day mode, giving away too many dot balls.
Just before the halfway stage of Pakistan’s innings, the partnership of Azhar and Babar Azam worth 61 runs was helping Pakistan tick along nicely. This was before Adil Rashid controversially had Babar trapped LBW with England content with spin at both ends helping to reduce the run rate. A captain’s innings from Azhar (82) who was the mainstay of the innings ended when he was caught when trying to up the run rate.
This innings along with the contribution of the middle and lower-order enabled Pakistan to post a respectable but average total of 260-6, the most notable being the 55 runs of wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
The main reason why Pakistan got a below average total was the England bowlers continuing to take wickets throughout the innings. Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett and Joe Root all took one wicket apiece, while leg-spinner Adil Rashid was the pick of the bowlers with two scalps to his name.
Coming out to bat, England knew they needed to get off to a good start regardless of the scanty target they had been given. Whereas England’s fast bowlers looked threatening throughout and fast with Mark Wood averaging 90mph, Pakistan’s looked slow and disappointing, helping to clearly highlight the flatness of the pitch. It looked a completely different pitch from one innings to the next.
Openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales got the England innings off to a flying start, scoring 22 runs off the first three overs. Jason Roy scored at an impressively electrifying rate of 18 off 13 balls hitting Umar Gul for three boundaries off his 1st over.
After the fast start, England slowed down (somewhat) after losing the wicket of Alex Hales for 7 runs as he edged a Umar Gul delivery to slip. They were then able to compose themselves and settle down.
The partnership of Roy and Root proved to be a huge contribution to England winning the rain-affected match. At the end of the first powerplay, England were motoring on 66-1 and they kept the scoring going to eventually bring up the 100 for in the 16th over.
England would have reached Pakistan’s total of 260 with relative ease if it wasn’t for the rain. It poured down too heavily and stopped play, before the game was finally ended, England winning the first match of the five one-day international series by 44 runs (D/L) taking a 1-0 lead.
England, who would expect to beat Pakistan, had a good performance with the bat and the ball. First of all they managed to restrict Pakistan to a fairly low score of 260-6 with all the bowlers contributing and then the batsmen did not disappoint either.
Jason Roy and Joe Root were the stand-out performers. They both scored half-centuries allowing England to slowly ease to the win. England will go into the next ODI on Saturday at Lord’s full of confidence after a dominant win.