Perhaps the game of the World Cup so far, as Pakistan defied all pre-match odds to stun England at Trent Bridge. The visitors racked up 348 after being sent in by Eoin Morgan, and England, despite having two centurions in the chase, fell 14 runs short. Here are our talking points from this epic clash in Nottingham.
You never quite know which Pakistan team will turn up
Three days ago, this Pakistan team had been thrashed at this very ground by a West Indies side that had barely managed to qualify for the World Cup themselves. Today they pulled themselves up to halt their record losing streak in ODI’s and stun pre-tournament favourites England. It musn’t be forgotten that just a month ago, they had been beaten 4-0 by England in a bilateral series. For the neutrals, Pakistan remain a hugely entertaining side- a team that can beat the best, but also lose to the worst. After five days of CWC 2019, they now hold the records for both the highest and lowest scores in this tournament.
Did Eoin Morgan err by opting to field first?
Did Morgan make the same mistake as Faf du Plessis did yesterday by sending Pakistan in? There was no scoreboard pressure for the visitors to deal with when they batted, and while England tried their best to keep pace with the required rate, there’s a reason why 300+ scores aren’t chased that often in World Cups, and Trevor Bayliss’ men eventually fell short. Pakistan are not known to be a good chasing team and bowling remains their stronger suit.
The redemption of Wahab Riaz
It’s not often that one uses the word “redemption” for a bowler who goes for over 80 runs, but it was apt for Wahab Riaz. The much maligned pacer (he had been publicly criticised by coach Micky Arthur), swung the game in Pakistan’s favour by getting the wickets of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes in successive balls in the 48th over. Not quite in the same league as Wasim Akram’s legendary deliveries to dismiss Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the 1992 final, but just reward for a pacer who had toiled hard and should’ve got more wickets on the day.
Bad fielding and captaincy almost costs Pakistan dear
Pakistan’s fielding and Sarfaraz’s captaincy were far from flawless- Babar Azam dropped Joe Root on 10, there were several occasions where the slip was removed, only for the ball to fly through that area seconds later. But as Bangladesh had discovered at the Oval, these errors tend to be less costly when you’re defending a huge total. England were poor in the field as well, the most glaring of their mistakes being Jason Roy’s drop of Mo Hafeez when the latter was on 14.
Selection changes work for Pakistan
Pakistan made two changes in this game- dropping a specialist batsman (Haris Sohail) and an all-rounder Imad Wasim for Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali respectively. It meant Malik and Hafeez would have to should much of the fifth bowler’s burden, and they did so brilliantly, going for just 53 runs in 10 overs and also getting the crucial wickets of Morgan and Ben Stokes.