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England win thriller, clinch ODI series against Pakistan

Hosts chased down 341-run target in Nottingham

PHOTO: AFP

England defeated Pakistan by three wickets in the third one-day international (ODI) in Nottingham on Friday, to take a three-nil lead in the five-match series.

Right-handed batsman Babar Azam’s century went in vain as the hosts chased down the 341-run target in a thrilling contest.

While chasing the mammoth target, England got off to a solid start with openers Jason Roy and James Vince putting up an opening stand of 94 runs.

Pakistan pacer Hasnain provided the first breakthrough as he breached Vince’s defense with a delivery that stayed low.

At the fall of first wicket, Joe Root joined Roy and looked comfortable against a Pakistan attack that looked devoid of answers.

Roy was given a chance early, as Fakhar Zaman spilled a straightforward catch. Taking full advantage of the mistake, Roy took full control in an innings of 114 runs off 89 balls.

Roy and Root made a partnership of 107 before Hasnain finally provided Pakistan with a breakthrough as he crammed Roy on the leg-side that resulted in a simple catch for wicketkeeper Sarfaraz.

The breakthrough, however, brought back life into a match that seemed to be getting away from Pakistan as a mini-collapse followed.

In-form England batsman Jos Buttler played an uncharacteristic shot off the bowling of left-arm spinner Imad Wasim that landed safely in Hasnain’s hands.

Root became Wasim's second victim when Hafeez completed a stunning one-handed catch.

All-rounder Moeen Ali was the next to fall as he was caught by Zaman running back from mid-off, as pressure began to build on England.

Not to be outdone, pacer Junaid Khan completed a one-handed catch off his own bowling to dismiss middle-order batsman Joe Denly for 17 runs.

All-rounder Tom Curran and Ben Stokes then stitched together a partnership of 61 runs that took the pressure away from England.

Pacer Hasan Ali broke through Curran’s defence, who scored 31 runs off 30 balls. The damage however had already been done as Stokes and tailender Adil Rashid chased down the required runs.

Ben Stokes remained unbeaten on 71 runs off 64 balls to hand England a series victory with a game to spare.

Earlier England had won the toss and opted to field first, in overcast conditions.

Pace and bounce created problems for Pakistan early in the innings, as their centurion from the last match, Imamul Haq copped a nasty blow to the elbow courtesy a sharp bouncer from England pacer Jofra Archer. Imam had to leave retired hurt and was taken to a nearby medical facility.

Right-hand batsman Babar Azam then joined opener Fakhar Zaman and gave the visitors a solid start.

Azam seemed composed and scored on all sides of the Nottingham ground.

The duo put on a 107-run partnership that was eventually broken by pacer Tom Curran, who got the wicket of Zaman. The opener scored 57 off 50 balls, an innings that consisted of two sixes and five fours.

All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez then joined Azam and stitched a 104-run partnership. Hafeez scored a breezy 59 off 55 balls but was finally removed by England pacer Mark Wood.

Azam continued his fine touch and raced to 115 off 112 balls. Pacer Tom Curran finally got the best of the prolific batsman as he tried to raise the tempo of the innings.

Malik played a great cameo of 41 off 26 balls but fell prey to a hit-wicket dismissal off the bowling of Wood.

The lower-order could not build on the foundation as wickets tumbled and Pakistan could only manage 340 runs. This target proved to be below par for a ground like Nottingham.

Opener Jason Roy was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his outstanding knock of 114 runs off 89 balls.