Hafeez-driven Pakistan can take unassailable 2-0 lead with victory in second ODI in Abu Dhabi
Pakistan has been in red hot form, and continued its winning ways on Wednesday (November 11) in pursuit of a fourth consecutive One-Day International series win.
After beating Zimbabwe (2-0), Sri Lanka (3-2) and Zimbabwe again (2-1), Pakistan landed the first blow in the four-match ODI series against England, winning the opening game by six wickets. It will be keen to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the second ODI, also at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on Friday.
In the first match, Pakistan’s bowlers did well to bowl England out for 216, and then rode on Mohammad Hafeez’s unbeaten 102 to surge past the line. Mohammad Irfan rocked England with a wicket off the second ball of the game on his way to figures of 3 for 35 in his 10 overs.
England did have some bright spots -- Eoin Morgan and James Taylor both made half-centuries, while Reece Topley picked up 3 for 26 -- but it must regroup quickly and come up with a better performance to draw level before the series moves to Sharjah.
The batting let England down, necessitating Morgan and Taylor to lift the side from 14 for 3 inside four overs to 147, before it lost four wickets in the space of 32 balls. The other top-order batsmen, Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Joe Root, have to provide a solid platform so that its middle order, comprising Morgan, Taylor and Jos Buttler, has something to build on.
England's bowlers didn’t have enough runs to defend, and Pakistan targeted its spinners, Moeen, Adil Rashid and Root, who combined for figures of 1 for 104 from 19 overs. Topley's performance was a big plus for England, but its bowlers must hunt as a pack in Abu Dhabi. England could also bolster the bowling department with a little extra pace, by including one of Chris Jordan or Liam Plunkett.
Pakistan wobbled at 41 for 3 before Hafeez hit a brilliant, match-winning century and got together with Babar Azam to overhaul the modest target in 43.4 overs. It, however, needs to iron out a few more chinks in the absence of Younus Khan, who retired from limited-overs internationals after the first ODI.
While Pakistan could have opted for Ahmed Shehzad or Mohammad Rizwan to replace the retired veteran, it chose to go with Iftikhar Ahmed, an uncapped batsman, who has been drafted into the Twenty20 International squad as well.
In the absence of Younus, the responsibility on Hafeez has increased, and Pakistan can only hope that the batsman extends his purple patch. Hafeez now has four half-centuries and two hundreds in his last 12 ODIs. "I am happy that I am contributing in Pakistan's wins and everything is going well for me," said Hafeez, who also hit 151 in the third Test in Sharjah as Pakistan clinched a 2-0 series win.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett.
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Bilal Asif, Iftikhar Ahmed,, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Amir Yamin, Anwer Ali, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan.