1.40pm EDT 13:40 43rd over: Pakistan 305-4 (Asif 40, Sarfaraz 12) Rashid still has two overs remaining, which feels important. Pakistan are just about keeping up with the required rate, with nine from that Woakes over. It included a lovely shot from Asif Ali, who sliced a drive up and over backward point for four.
43rd over: Pakistan 305-4 (Asif 40, Sarfaraz 12) Rashid still has two overs remaining, which feels important. Pakistan are just about keeping up with the required rate, with nine from that Woakes over. It included a lovely shot from Asif Ali, who sliced a drive up and over backward point for four. He has 40 from 25 balls.
42nd over: Pakistan 296-4 (Asif 34, Sarfaraz 10) Pakistan hammer Plunkett’s eighth over for 13 precious runs. Sarfaraz swings him high over the leg side for a one-bounce four before Asif Ali clubs another boundary down the ground.
41st over: Pakistan 283-4 (Asif 29, Sarfaraz 4) Chris Woakes returns to the attack. Asif Ali cuffs a pull just short of midwicket, and the first five deliveries all go for a single. The sixth, an excellent slower bouncer, is too good for Asif – and for Buttler, who gives away a couple of byes.
“I was just about to press send on something witty about 370+ chases becoming a formality and Buttler needing to do some soul searching about his dot ball problem, but now the narrative has been tainted by three quick wickets (aka the ‘Boycott Paradigm Shift’),” says Brian Withington. “Shame England can’t call on a 90+ mph quick to try to press home any transient advantage …”
I thought it was a fair decision to leave him out today, and it has worked out well because Woakes, Plunkett and Willey have had to do some rewardingly hard yakka.
40th over: Pakistan 276-4 (Asif 27, Sarfaraz 1) Superb stuff from Plunkett, who concedes only two from the over. Pakistan need 98 from 60 balls.
“Hello Rob,” says Matthew Doherty. “Given the strength of the upper order batters, surely England’s squad could contain an Anderson or Broad? But maybe we will have to wish we had a fit Reece Topley?”
I might be wrong – it’s not entirely without precedent – but I don’t think their non-selection has anything to do with their batting.
WICKET! Pakistan 274-4 (Haris c Bairstow b Plunkett 14)
Liam Plunkett strikes with the first ball of a new spell. Haris slapped a short ball high towards deep point, where the reliable Bairstow took a good running catch.
39th over: Pakistan 274-3 (Asif 26, Haris 14) Moeen’s last over is a decent effort – seven from it with no boundaries. He finishes with slightly unflattering fgures of 10-0-66-1.
38th over: Pakistan 267-3 (Asif 25, Haris 8) Asif Ali smashes Rashid over midwicket for a huge six, his third in the last seven deliveries, and then he’s dropped by Willey! He smeared Rashid towards long on, where Willey ran in and put down a relatively straightforward low chance. He’s thoroughly hacked off with himself.
37th over: Pakistan 257-3 (Asif 18, Haris 6) Another six for Asif Ali, this one clouted over long-on off Moeen. A handful of ones and twos make it an excellent over for Pakistan, who are still right in this game. No total is safe any more.
36th over: Pakistan 245-3 (Asif 8, Haris 4) Oof! Asif Ali gets Pakistan moving again with a lusty slog sweep for six off Rashid. Eight from the over, which means Pakistan need 129 from 84 balls.
35th over: Pakistan 237-3 (Asif 2, Haris 3) England have become good at holding their nerve when their opponent threatens to chase down a huge target. Much of that, you suspect, is down to the equilibrium of Eoin Morgan. Moeen Ali returns to the attack and bowls a good over – three dot balls, three singles, and the required rate is above nine an over.
WICKET! Pakistan 233-3 (Babar c and b Rashid 51)
Babar reaches a typical, stealthy half-century. Despite containing only one boundary, it has taken just 50 balls. But he’s gone now! He tried to smash a vile long hop from Rashid and miscued it straight back to the bowler. His glove slipped off the bat as he played the stroke, which is why it went back to Rashid rather than out of the ground as intended.
33rd over: Pakistan 227-2 (Babar 46, Asif 0) Asif Ali is the new batsman.
WICKET! Pakistan 227-2 (Fakhar c Buttler b Woakes 138)
Fakhar has gone! What a brilliant review from England. He seemed to miss a wide attempted yorker from Woakes, but Ultra-Edge showed it shaved the bottom of the bat on its way through to Buttler. Most of the England players didn’t even appeal – but Woakes did and Morgan backed him up by opting to review. I thought it was a silly, desperate decision; not for the last time, I was wrong.
Fakhar gets a fine ovation for an innings that was both spectacular and intimidating in its certainty. He’s quite a player.
The form and fitness of the other seamers, Tom Curran excepted, is becoming a worry.
32nd over: Pakistan 220-1 (Fakhar 132, Babar 45) It’s time for Adil Rashid, Eoin Morgan’s trump card. He has six overs remaining, and they will probably decide the match. The first disappears for 12. Great stuff. Fakhar smacks consecutive boundaries, a sweep followed by a lofted drive down the ground. Pakistan need 154 from 18 overs; they should win comfortably from here.
31st over: Pakistan 208-1 (Fakhar 124, Babar 42) Chris Woakes replaces Liam Plunkett (6-0-41-0). His first ball is short and pulled for four by Fakhar, who has scored approximately 99.94 per cent of his runs today on the leg side. Woakes then spears in a wide yorker to Fakhar, who walks across his stumps and pings the ball mischievously over short fine leg for four more. Shot! Fourteen from the over, and England really, really need a wicket.
30th over: Pakistan 194-1 (Fakhar 111, Babar 41) Fakhar clears his front leg and smears a slower ball back over Stokes’s head for four. The over ends with a rare play and miss when Babar fiddles outside off stump. I thought I heard a noise as it went past the bat; nobody else did.
29th over: Pakistan 187-1 (Fakhar 105, Babar 41) Babar steers Plunkett towards third man, where the diving Rashid does excellently to turn four runs into three. Ten more from the over; England really need a wicket here.
28th over: Pakistan 177-1 (Fakhar 103, Babar 33) Ben Stokes comes into the attack, presumably with instructions to Get Fakhar. If he is batting in the 40th over, England will be in trouble. At the other end, Babar Azam gets his first boundary with a sweetly timed flick off the hip. It tells you how well Babar has worked the ball around that, despite only hitting a single boundary, his 33 runs have come from only 37 balls.
FAKHAR ZAMAN MAKES HIS FOURTH ODI HUNDRED!
27th over: Pakistan 168-1 (Fakhar 100, Babar 27) Fakhar smears another baseball stroke for four, this time off Plunkett, before threading the final ball of the over for a couple to reach a brilliant hundred from only 84 balls. Well played indeed. He has batted with a lot of control and commonsense, and he has been savage with anything short.
26th over: Pakistan 160-1 (Fakhar 93, Babar 26) This is a good little spell from Willey, who concedes only five singles from his seventh over. Pakistan need 214 from 24 overs.
25th over: Pakistan 155-1 (Fakhar 90, Babar 24) “Rob,” says Dorothy. “Is it my imagination or has Chris Woakes gone off any kind of boil after he was awarded his IPL contract last year? There seems to be no edge to him. Obviously a lovely bloke who is very popular but with Jordan, Archer, Curran (T) all of whom can bat, is it not time for a little more scrutiny? I suspect that his injuries have shielded him a little from a true appraisal of his worth to the team. Of course, maybe statistics will show otherwise, I sort of hope so.”
Personally I think it’s all down to his injury problems. He’s not the kind of chap who would lose focus or thnk he’s cracked it. His fitness and form are a worry – he’s averaging 123 with the ball in ODIs this year – but I’d say he still has a lot of credit in the bank. He’s so important with the new ball.
24th over: Pakistan 152-1 (Fakhar 88, Babar 23) The ball is making a beautiful sound when it comes off Fakhar’s bat, particularly when he plays the pull stroke. Not quite as beautiful as this, but still very easy on the ears. He has 88 from 72 balls; England need to bring this to a close.
23rd over: Pakistan 146-1 (Fakhar 86, Babar 19) Liam Plunkett also returns to the attack. Fakhar lifts a full back high over backward square leg for six, his fourth of the innings; Plunkett responds with an excellent cross-seamer that kicks to hit Fakhar on the bottom of the grille; Fakhar then cuffs a ferocious pull stroke that is brilliantly saved on the boundary by Jonny Bairstow. An eventful over concludes when Fakhar top-edges a pull shot miles in the air, with the ball falling well short of Rashid at fine leg.
22nd over: Pakistan 136-1 (Fakhar 76, Babar 19) David Willey returns to the attack, conceding three runs from a good over that includes a play and miss by Babar. As Rob Key says on Sky, this is an important spell for Willey, a chance to remind everyone that he can do a job with the old ball. It’s going to be such a tough call to decide which seamer misses out. A fortnight ago I thought it would be Tom Curran; now I haven’t a clue.
21st over: Pakistan 134-1 (Fakhar 75, Babar 18) Fakhar cracks Moeen to wide long on for four more. In the Champions Trophy two years ago I thought he was a bit of a chancer – great fun and potentially devastating, but still a chancer. He looks a much better player now.
20th over: Pakistan 125-1 (Fakhar 69, Babar 15) Rashid enquires unsuccessfully for LBW when Fakhar pushes round his front pad. I’m pretty sure it was missing leg. A good over from Rashid, only three from it. Pakistan need 249 from the last 30 overs.
19th over: Pakistan 122-1 (Fakhar 67, Babar 15) Fakhar has a big swipe at Moeen and drags the ball just past his leg stump. Time for drinks.
“Is cricket increasingly becoming a batters’ game where bowlers have little scope to flourish other than break their backs more in hope than with any sense of confidence?” asks Gangesh. “Heavy bats, flat decks, short boundary lines, improvised batting pyrotechnics, etc., have reduced the game to bowlers’ graveyard. Just spare a thought for the latter. Only they are challenged while every batter runs up astronomical gains. This is but UNFAIR!”
Yes, I think the balance is slightly out of whack in white-ball cricket, but I suspect we’re in the minority. I can live with 350+ being the norm in ODIs if Test matches are as exciting as they’ve been in the past 18 months.
18th over: Pakistan 116-1 (Fakhar 65, Babar 11) Pakistan are dealing mainly in ones and twos, topped up by the occasional big shot from Fakhar. It’s excellent stuff, and there have been hardly any dot balls since the spinners came into the attack.
17th over: Pakistan 109-1 (Fakhar 64, Babar 5) Fakhar charges Moeen again, but this time he can only crunch the ball down the ground for a single. He makes up for it off the final delivery, cuffing a mighty slog sweep for six.