Joe Root blasted 84 as England won by 54 runs to seal the five-match series against Pakistan 4-0 as they head into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 high on confidence. (Image credit: Twitter)
England posted yet another total of 350+ in an ODI. Pakistan stayed in the hunt thanks to Babar Azam and Sarfaraz Ahmed. However, a moment of fielding brilliance from Adil Rashid backed up with some brilliant bowling from Chris Woakes who finished with 5/54 gave England a 54-run win in the fifth and final ODI in Leeds on Sunday and gave them a 4-0 series win, with one game at The Oval being abandoned due to rain. For Pakistan, this was their ninth loss in 10 games and they will be facing an uphill task in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 while on the other hand, England enters into this tournament as the red-hot favourites.
England chose to bat and once again, James Vince and Jonny Bairstow got off to a flier. The fifty-run stand came in just the seventh over with both batsmen finding the boundaries on a regular basis. Shaheen Afridi got the breakthrough when Vince fell for 32 but Joe Root began with a bang, slamming three boundaries of Mohammad Hasnain and two off Imad Wasim. When Bairstow was out for 32 to Wasim, Pakistan resorted to spin and that worked in the phase from the 12th to the 20th over in which only two boundaries were scored. Root notched up his 30th fifty but Eoin Morgan, back for the match after being suspended for the Trent Bridge ODI due to a slow over-rate, broke the shackles by hammering a six each off Fakhar Zaman and Hasnain.
Morgan looked in ominous touch by lofting Wasim for two sixes in one over but Shaheen Afridi came back and broke the 100-plus run stand by getting Morgan out for 76. Root looked good for a century while Jos Buttler continued his great form with some big hits. Hasnain got the big wicket of Root for 84. Buttler’s dangerous innings was cut short when Wasim dismissed him for 34 and things became better for Pakistan when Moeen Ali was trapped LBW for a two-ball duck.
Pakistan bowled decently in the death overs but some magnificent late-hitting from Tom Curran got England past 350 again. In response, Pakistan started disastrously when Woakes sent back Fakhar Zaman edged Root for a duck. Woakes struck twice in the second over when he removed Abid Ali and Mohammad Hafeez and at that time, he had figures of 2-2-0-3.
Pakistan looked up to Babar Azam and he counter-attacked in style with three boundaries in two overs. Sarfaraz also gave good company and Azam notched up his 12th fifty. The Pakistan skipper joined in the party with an aggressive fifty and the 146-run stand gave Pakistan hope. However, in the 27th over, the game turned. Azam nudged a tossed up ball from Adil Rashid and set off for a quick single. Buttler fired a wild throw but Rashid collected and back-flicked the ball back onto the stumps to run-out Azam for 80.
Sarfaraz kept Pakistan in the hunt by hammering two fours and a six off Rashid but with the rate mounting, he was run-out for 97 thanks to some fast thinking from Buttler. Wasim, Hasnain and Hasan Ali only delayed the inevitable and Pakistan ended up losing the match in the 46th over. With this final ODI, both teams head directly to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 with contrasting fortunes.