Pakistan vs England | Tuesday 17 November | Sharjah Cricket Stadium | UAE | 12:45
England will have been pleased to finally register a win on their tour of the UAE with a comprehensive victory over a much-fancied Pakistan side. A fine maiden ODI century from Alex Hales coupled with outstanding bowling performances from Chris Woakes and David Willey ensured that Pakistan were never really in the game after they came in to bat.
Key to England’s victory in the second ODI was the opening stand between Jason Roy and Alex Hales. Much was made of their failings in the first One Day International where England slumped to a disappointing six-wicket loss.
To Win Match
Pakistan were perhaps rocked by the sudden retirement of Younis Khan. The stalwart batsman made the shock announcement on the morning of the first ODI, having previously been fairly critical of Pakistani selectors for dropping him from the national side earlier this year.
Having lost the toss, Pakistan were asked to bowl first on a decent enough batting track. Mohammad Irfan and Anwar Ali would have been licking their lips at the chance to bowl to an English top order that – with the exception of Eoin Morgan and James Taylor – lacked any real conviction in the first ODI. Instead, the English openers came out and played Pakistan’s bowlers superbly well. Jason Roy and Alex hales took the attack to the host's strike bowlers putting on a 102-run opening partnership.
Some Credit does go out to the Pakistan's attack though as they managed to reduce England’s total to just 283 after they were looking on course to get 320+ earlier on. The hosts would have come out to the middle confident of chasing down England's below par 283.. Their chase got off to the worst possible start with Babar Azam being dismissed early on after being trapped in front by a straight David Willey delivery. He would be followed five balls later by Mohammed Hafeez, who had been so crucial in anchoring the Pakistani innings in the first ODI. Once he departed, the rest of the top order collapsed after some excellent bowling from England’s three quicks.
The English management will be ecstatic with the way their opening pair faired against a fired up Pakistani attack. Alex Hales and Jason Roy – who both would have been feeling the pressure after their failings in the first ODI – came out and played the hosts’ bowling with new found composure. Jason Roy, in particular, did well. Some of the question marks surrounding his defensive vulnerabilities were erased as he went on to score 54 before mistiming a pull shot against Wahab Riaz presenting Shoaib Malik with a simple enough catch.
With a solid platform set by the English openers, they’d have hoped to score in excess of 300 on a slowing wicket. Joe Root joined Hales in the middle and the two continued to frustrate a Pakistani bowling attack that looked as if it was running out of ideas. Hales would go on to reach his maiden ODI century before being smartly stumped by Sarfraz Ahmed off the bowling of Iftikhar Ahmed.
By then England were 216-2 after 39 overs and looked on course to post a score well in excess of 300. However, the wicket of Root, who was superbly bowled by Wahab Riaz effectively put the brakes on as England stumbled over the line; eventually finishing on 283-5.
England took to the field knowing that they were going to need a solid bowling performance if they were to successfully defend their mediocre total. England got off to the perfect start, though, tearing through the hosts’ top order. Pakistan lost their first six wickets for just 80 runs, effectively ending the game as a contest. Only Sarfraz Ahmed offered any sort of resistance scoring 64.
Chris Woakes – who had been without a wicket in six ODIS – read the conditions perfectly taking all the pace off of the ball. He stuck to his plan, bowling back of a length with a sprinkling of off cutters. The plan paid dividends as Iftikhar and Malik both walked after failed pull shots while Azhar Ali fell, dragging on one of the cutters.
There will still be question marks around England’s spinners, though. Even with Adil Rashid finding some joy on the Abu Dhabi pitch, the English have failed to identify and bring through any world class spinners since the retirement of Graeme Swann. Moeen Ali again struggled, while Rashid looked more settled this time around, finishing on 1-32 off his 10 overs.
The third ODI will be hosted by the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates. Like many of the other wickets in the UAE, batsmen should flourish here. Scores in excess of 275 aren’t uncommon at a ground where Pakistan have a solid enough record.
Expect the spinners to play an important role in the middle overs as there may well be some turn as the ball gets slightly older. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid will have to step up here and prove their worth with the ball in hand if England are going to win the third ODI.
Verdict: Joe Root Top England Batsman at 7/2
I’m sticking my neck out here a bit, however, Root did look solid in the second ODI and really should have gone on to complete his century. In Root, England have one of the best all round batsmen in world cricket at the moment, back him to top score at generous odds of 7/2. I do think that Pakistan should win this game, however, they don't offer as much value at 9/10.