اردو

Imam heroics in vain as England ease past Pakistan in third ODI

Hosts chased down 359-run target in Bristol in comprehensive fashion

PHOTO: AFP

England defeated Pakistan by six wickets in the third one-day international (ODI) at Bristol on Tuesday, to take a two-nil lead in the five-match series.

Right–handed batsman Jonny Bairstow overpowered the visitors with an incredible century that made the contest a one-sided affair.

While chasing a mammoth target of 359 runs, England got off to a solid start with openers Jason Roy and Bairstow putting on a 159-run partnership.

Roy could have been removed in the seventh over on 21 with the score still a tame 46 runs, but Shaheen Shah Afridi dropped a simple catch.

Absolute carnage followed as Roy and Bairstow upped the ante and punished the Pakistan bowlers for their mistakes.

Fast-bowler Hasan Ali eventually removed Roy for 76 runs off 55 balls. The damage however had already been done.

Opener Baristow continued on his merry way scoring with reckless abandon. His brutal 128-run innings came off just 93 balls which all but closed out the match.

Imad Wasim removed right-handed batsman Joe Root for 43 off 36 balls.

All-rounders Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali then stitched together a partnership that helped England edge closer to victory. Stokes made 37 runs off 38 balls and got unlucky when the ball deflected onto his stumps, on the non-strikers end, after a powerful drive by Ali off Afridi.

Left-hander Ali remained unbeaten on 36 runs off 46 balls, along with captain Eoin Morgan who finished unbeaten at 17 off 12 balls.

Earlier England had won the toss and opted to field first on a dry pitch. It reaped immediate rewards as Chris Woakes removed opener Fakhar Zaman and one-down batsman Babar Azam in quick succession. The ball to remove Babar was a lethal inswinger that found its way through the batsman’s defense and clattered into the top of off stump.

Left-hander Haris Sohail joined opener Imamul Haq in a bid to rebuild Pakistan’s innings. Sohail was fluent right from the start, scoring boundaries with ease.

Just when it seemed like Pakistan were in control, Sohail had a brain freeze and was caught lazily running for a single by the agile English fast-bowler Tom Curran, who removed the bails by kicking the ball onto the stumps.

Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed then joined Imam but was removed for 27 runs off 34 balls by fast-bowler Liam Plunkett.

Imam and right-handed batsman Asif Ali then made the most substantial contribution to the score with a 125-run partnership.

Imam was the backbone of the entire innings as wickets fell around him. His 151 off 131 balls made him the fastest batsman to reach six centuries in terms of innings.

Asif Ali continued his rich form with a blistering 52 off 43 balls. His striking capability brings him closer to a spot in Pakistan’s World Cup squad.

Bairstow was adjudged player of the match for his sensational knock of 128 off 93 balls.