Pakistan faces must-win situation with England already 2-0 up and looking to wrap up the ODI series
Pakistan faces a must-win scenario in the third One-Day International against England at Trent Bridge in Nottingham to keep the series alive, with the home team already 2-0 up in the five-match series. The visiting team will look to its batsmen to rise to the occasion on Tuesday (August 29) to keep the contest alive.
In the first match, no one really got going barring Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed. So good was England’s bowling that even the in-form duo, who made more than 50 percent of the team total of 260 for 6, could not really accelerate at the right time. Azhar got out in the 36th over after adding 65 runs with Sarfraz, and then Sarfraz lost momentum.
In the second game, Sarfraz made a century that was true to his character – coming after Pakistan had been reduced to 3 for 2. One Pakistan cricket's best performers in the recent past, Sarfraz soaked in the pressure and focussed on stitching partnerships with Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim.
Pakistan, however, would have wanted him to bat till the end in order to give Imad adequate cover with a total larger than the 251 it eventually got.
So true have been the pitches in the ODI series that England has hardly broken sweat to record two successive successful chases.
As much as Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy have been attractive to watch, it has been England’s bowling that has been the icing on the cake. Mark Wood’s return, almost a year after undergoing two operations on his left ankle, has been nothing less than inspiring. The first glimpse of how threatening he could be was visible on the Finals Day of the Natwest Twenty20 competition. Chasing 157 against Durham, Yorkshire was comfortably placed at 86 for 3 in 11 overs when Paul Collingwood brought back Wood for his second spell and put a slip in place.
Cranking up good pace, Wood struck with his first and third balls to change the complexion of the game. Then with 23 needed in two overs, Yorkshire again failed to see off Wood as he picked up two more wickets in the 19th over and finished with career-best figures of 4 for 25 to seal a spot for Durham in the final.
Wood took time to find his rhythm in the first ODI against Pakistan, but in the second game he struck thrice at different times in the innings to peg the visiting team back. Wood has been well supported by Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett, and England’s attack will now be strengthened further by the return of Ben Stokes as a bowler.
England has a great chance to wrap the series up in the third game, but if there is one team that can change the equation and bring the series back to life, it is Pakistan.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jake Ball, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Sharjeel Khan, Sami Aslam, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Nawaz.