Buttler

Buttler smashes 50-ball century as England edge Pakistan in enthralling affair

Eng v Pak, 2nd ODI, report

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A 50-ball ton from wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler helped England secure a 12-run victory over Pakistan in a thrilling, high-scoring encounter at Southampton, taking a 1-0 series lead.

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England posted a daunting 373/3 thanks to contributions from all of their top order, with only Joe Root (40) scoring below 50, but Pakistan fought valiantly in their reply, Fakhar Zaman recording a fantastic 138 as the tourists fell agonisingly short.

Having been put in to bat, a vital opening stand of 115 from Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow set England up for a big total, with the excellent start capitalised later on by a stirring partnership between Eoin Morgan and Buttler.

The openers brought up three figures for the first wicket inside 17 overs, but Bairstow (51), the aggressor in the early stages, was dismissed by Shaheen Shah Afridi (1/80) shortly after reaching his 50, hooking to Zaman on the boundary who managed to cling on to a splendid catch above his head.

Roy, who notched his 13th ODI fifty, and Root, then accumulated nicely until rain forced a break in play, but Hasan Ali made a vital breakthrough once the wet period had passed. Digging one in short, Roy could only punt his mistimed swipe high in the air and into the hands of mid-off for 87 (98). 

Root then gifted Yasir Shah his only scalp with a tame pull to mid-wicket, making way for a vicious assault from Morgan and Buttler, with the England skipper bringing up his 50 from 34 balls and Buttler’s coming from just 32.

They reached 300 in the 46th over, and the England wicket-keeper went into fourth gear, hammering a six over long-off to reach a spectacular eighth ODI hundred at a strike-rate of exactly 200. Morgan was excellent too for his 71* (48), as England set Pakistan a highly challenging chase of 374 to win. 

Pakistan got off to an excellent start with their reply, Zaman finding his stride immediately. He glided to a half-century from 39 balls before Imam Ul-Haq (35) chipped one back to Moeen Ali, breaking the opening stand of 92.

Zaman was in fine form as he recorded his fourth ODI century
Zaman was in fine form as he recorded his fourth ODI century

Zaman made light work of the English attack, which did not have the rested Jofra Archer, the left-hander racing to his century from 84 balls in the midst of another dynamic partnership, this time with Babar Azam.

Zaman finally became unstuck when Chris Woakes and England utilised a successful review for caught-behind, the opener having contributed a marvellous 106-ball 138. England then seized momentum with the wicket of the dangerous Azam (51), who chipped one to Adil Rashid for a caught-and-bowled, and Haris Sohail (14) followed suit when he nicked off to Bairstow to give Liam Plunkett (2/64) his first wicket.

A rapid 36-ball 51 from Asif Ali, which included four sixes, helped edge Pakistan closer to their target in a tense finish, but David Willey (2/57) snared the danger-man, leaving the responsibility with captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Rhythm was hard to come by as he struggled for partners, Willey and Plunkett doubling up with the respective wickets of Imad Wasim (3) and Faheem Ashraf (8).

Sarfraz's unbeaten 41 was not enough to squeeze his side home as he faltered in his attempt to take 19 off the final over, Woakes conceding just six, and England now go into the third match with a 1-0 lead.

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