England v Pakistan: Host maintain ODI winning streak at Headingley

Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes keep England on track with century stand at Headingley

David Clough
Thursday 01 September 2016 22:40
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England’s Jonny Bairstow hits a six on his way to an innings of 61 against Pakistan
England’s Jonny Bairstow hits a six on his way to an innings of 61 against Pakistan

Super-sub Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes kept England on track for an unbeaten white-ball summer with a four-wicket win over Pakistan.

Stokes has been a late arrival in England's limited-overs team this season, because of his injury troubles, and Bairstow was the fifth Yorkshire player in action on his home ground only after Jos Buttler injured his hamstring in the warm-up.

They answered the call with a century stand in this fourth Royal London Series match, after England stumbled to 72 for four in pursuit of 247 for eight under lights.

The hosts, following up the record-breaking heroics of Trent Bridge - where they racked up an all-time highest one-day international total of 444 for three - have also wrapped up Andrew Strauss' cross-format Super Series for good measure.

The 4-0 scoreline was in evident danger, albeit facing an achievable target, before Stokes (69) and Bairstow (61) got to work.

But they demonstrated England's enviable strength in depth to help edge this much tighter contest following the Nottingham cakewalk.

On a surface which brought the bowlers - especially spinners - fairly into the equation, there was never any prospect of an assault on the record books this time.

Only under-fire captain Azhar Ali (80) and number eight Imad Wasim (57not out) hit half-centuries for Pakistan, as Adil Rashid (three for 47) and Moeen Ali shared five wickets.

The premise of a routine chase was undermined, however, with England in a decidedly awkard spot by the 15-over mark.

Ben Stokes helped steady the ship for England at Headingley

Jason Roy was very well-caught low down at second slip by Mohammad Rizwan off Mohammad Irfan, and Alex Hales - England's record-breaker in chief with his new benchmark 171 two days ago - edged behind pushing forward, after the tall left-armer went round the wicket to avoid a final warning for running on the pitch.

Previously in-form pair Joe Root and Eoin Morgan each contributed more obviously to his own downfall, the former mis-pulling Hasan Ali to long-leg and his captain guiding a catch off Umar Gul straight to slip.

A trio who had gorged an aggregate 313 runs at their previous attempt had therefore mustered only 49.

But with England's other Trent Bridge big-hitter Buttler absent, his replacement Bairstow set about making up the shortfall.

Stokes had a close call for lbw against Mohammad Nawaz on 30.

Then five runs later, he escaped when Nawaz could not hold on to a difficult outfield chance off his fellow slow left-armer Imad.

It was not until he had a run-a-ball 50 under his belt that Stokes picked out deep midwicket off Imad - and if any fresh doubts were briefly sown, Bairstow ensured they did not last long.

He reached his half-century with a ferocious straight-drive off Nawaz - and with Irfan out of the equation injured, much to the apparent displeasure of coach Mickey Arthur, England were in charge despite Bairstow's late direct-hit run-out, Moeen closing the deal with a straight six to finish unbeaten on 45 with two overs to spare.

Pakistan's stop-start innings got under way with an early wicket, Sharjeel Khan departing to a fine running catch by Stokes after skewing a drive over extra-cover off David Willey.

Liam Plunkett (right) celebrates with his captain Eoin Morgan after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Sami Aslam

Sami Aslam skied a second catch to Stokes, this time at deep midwicket off Liam Plunkett, but Azhar dug in for a 62-ball 50.

Plunkett held a good catch at point from a Babar Azam cut in Moeen's first over, and a much better one diving to his left at mid-on as Rashid saw off the dangerous Sarfaz Ahmed.

Rizwan was lbw, failing to account for Rashid's variations. Then Rashid signed off with the wicket of Azhar, whose hard work culminated only in a tame chip to long-off from the final ball of the leg-spinner's 10 overs.

Pakistan had only three wickets in hand when Moeen topped and tailed his spell with his second success, Nawaz stumped going walkabout.

In-form Imad reserved a relative big finish with a rapid 50 from 32 balls as he dominated Pakistan's only half-century stand, with Hasan for the eighth wicket.

But it did not prove enough to get the tourists off the mark in this series, as England continued unbeaten in 10 limited-overs matches since their agonising near miss in the World Twenty20 final.

If they complete a whitewash in Cardiff on Sunday, then add sprint victory in Manchester next week, they will make history as the first English team to go through a white-ball summer without defeat.

PA

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