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Buttler blitz seals series win for England

Batsman’s 46-ball ton and Jason Roy’s maiden ODI century form the cornerstone of 84-run win against Pakistan in fourth ODI

Buttler blitz seals series win for England - Cricket News
Buttler improved on his mark to reach three figures off just 46 balls this time.
A record ton from Jos Buttler and Jason Roy's maiden One-Day International century helped England beat Pakistan by 84 runs in the fourth and final ODI between the two sides in Dubai on Friday (November 20), and thereby clinch the four-match series 3-1.

Buttler, who already held the record of being the fastest Englishman to an ODI ton when he reached the landmark off 61 balls against Sri Lanka at Lord's in 2014, improved on his mark to reach three figures off just 46 balls this time. Buttler's feat also placed him joint seventh in the list of fastest ODI tons of all time.

The wicketkeeper-batsman ended unbeaten on 116 off 52 balls to take England to a massive 355 for 5 – its highest ODI score away from home – before walking off to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Chasing the daunting target, Pakistan started well, riding on a brisk 45-run opening stand off 39 balls between Ahmed Shehzad (13) and Azhar Ali (44), the captain, but once both departed - in the seventh and ninth overs respectively - the required run-rate started rising, and every batsman who followed was under the pressure of scoring quickly.

Mohammad Hafeez hit 37 off 36, and both Babar Azam (51 off 51 balls) and Shoaib Malik hit fifties in good time, but just when it looked like Pakistan was at par with the chase, the bowlers - Adil Rashid (3 for 78) in particular - struck regularly, eventually drying up the boundaries and sixes.

Malik's knock of 52 contained three fours and two sixes, and came off just 34 balls, but once Reece Topley had him caught by Alex Hales in the outfield in the 33rd over, it was only a matter of time, with the lower order bogged down by the pressure of the massive chase.

Eventually, in the 41st over, Anwar Ali drove a Moeen Ali delivery straight to Rasheed at short cover, officially ending Pakistan's innings at 271 in 40.4 overs.

Rasheed and Moeen, the spinners, were the most successful bowlers for England, bagging six wickets between them, while David Willey (2 for 34) and Topley (1 for 58) also chipped in.

Earlier, Roy, who first stitched an opening partnership of 54 off 67 balls with Alex Hales, went on to add 140 off 146 - the highest ever second-wicket partnership recorded at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium - with Joe Root after England chose to bat in the crucial contest.

Once Hales (22) fell in the 12th over, caught by Malik off Mohammad Irfan's bowling, Roy and Root took charge, hitting 11 boundaries and three sixes between themselves in their mammoth partnership.

Root got to his fifty with a lofted six over the bowler's head, and continued to attack right through his run-a-ball knock of 71, even as Roy became the second England batsman to score his maiden century - after Hales, in the second ODI - in the tournament.

Yasir Shah, the legspinner, finally broke the partnership in the 36th over when Roy miscued a lofted shot, looping the ball straight into the hands of Babar Azam at long-off. He ended with 102 off 117 balls, an innings studded with eight fours and a six.

Azhar Ali dismissed Root in the next over with his part-time legspin, and it was then upto the likes of Buttler, Eoin Morgan, and James Taylor to build from the solid platform they had.

Buttler pulverised the Pakistan attack with some splendid shots, mixing the audacious and the unorthodox at a pace that was quick even by Twenty20 standards.

The two sides will now lock horns for a three-match T20 International series beginning Thursday.

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