Cricket World Cup 2019: Pakistan stay true to form by beating hosts England
Woefully out of form and up against the best team in the world, Pakistan did what they often do by defying expectations
Twelve defeats in a row, including a warm up game against little-trumpeted Afghanistan. Four in a row against England already this summer. Sixteen losses in their past 19 one-day internationals against the same opposition.
They gave up 444 runs when they played on this strip of turf three years ago, which was, at the time, a world record. And they had been destroyed by West Indies just a few days earlier at this same ground.
Which, for students of Pakistan cricket, is the sort of form that should have made them odds-on certainties to win this one. It was a surprise that England, ODI cricket’s No 1 team and the World Cup favourites, ever thought they stood a chance.
This was peak Pakistan. No matter what has gone before, if they fancy it, nobody can stop them. Not even their own fielding foibles. Not even Jos Buttler being Jos Buttler. Not even Joe Root doing what he does.
Those two scored the first two centuries of the 2019 World Cup. And still England lost. How does that even figure?
It felt clear, early on a cool morning in Nottingham, that this was going to be one of their “on” days, just from the buzz emanating from Pakistan’s supporters.
As the fans thronged towards Trent Bridge, Dil Dil Pakistan – the unofficial anthem of this team – was booming out of cars driving down Bridgford Road, while green and white flags were fluttering from the windows. Nothing dissipates their passion. Not even a 12-match losing streak.
It is a testament to England’s recent brilliance that most people thought the game was still in the balance, if not tilted in the home side’s favour, when Pakistan signed for 348-8 from their 50 overs.
Bear in mind that no side has ever chased more in a World Cup match than the 328 Ireland made to beat England at the 2011 event in India. England, though, did twice chase scores of a similar mark in the bilateral series that preceded this competition.
Both sides did their best to prove the adage about dropped catches losing matches. Jason Roy had a day to forget in the field, as bad on this occasion as he had been scintillating last time out in the opening day win over South Africa.
He dropped Mohammed Hafeez on 14, a regulation chance coming in off the long-off rope, off Adil Rashid when Pakistan were 134-2. Hafeez went on to top score with 84.
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That typified a curiously poor performance in the field by England. As another example, Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s went to 50 when England gave up four overthrows – an error that was largely unforced.
Pakistan hardly excelled in that discipline, either. Babar Azam – who had earlier made a serene 68 – dropped Joe Root on nine at slip, when England were on 32 for one.
Root made the most of the reprieve, as he notched the first century of the World Cup. The fact his celebration on reaching three figures was understated stemmed from the fact there was a job to do. Yet he went soon after, caught by Hafeez after slicing a quicker ball by Shadab to the edge of the circle.
For Root, ditto Buttler. England’s wicket-keeper played the sort of innings that would be astonishing, were it not for the fact he does it all the time.
He went to 103 off 75 balls, then, just as Root had done before him, perished in exactly the same manner, caught in the gulley region off Mohammed Amir.
Once those two kingpins went England went into a slide that they were unable to arrest, as Wahab Riaz took three wickets to seal a 14-run win.
Updated: June 4, 2019 07:38 AM