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James Vince’s 102 off 95 balls helped England clean-sweep Pakistan in the Royal London ODI series 2021. In the third and final ODI, England chased down a record target of 332 for 7 wickets at Edgbaston, with 2 overs to spare, beating visitors by 3 wickets. Pakistan skipper Babar Azam’s 158 runs knock went in vain as spare-parts XI of England stole the show from Pakistan.
Babar-Edgbaston Love Affair helps Pakistan score big
Pakistan started quite watchfully as the team reached their 100 in the 24th over of the inning, in contrast to England, who reached their 100 in the 13th over of the inning. The comparison does indicate the nervousness and pressure Pakistan players were playing due to the fear of defeat and humiliation. When Imam Ul Haq got out in the 26th over for 56 off 73, Pakistan were 113 for 2.
Mohammad Rizwan came in at no.4 and scored 74 with a strike rate of 127, perhaps the only player of Pakistan who played without any sort of pressure. As Rizwan came and accelerated right from the start, Babar Azam broke his shackles and started playing freely. Rizwan helped Babar get out of the pressure of his bad streak and, once he settled down, started finding boundaries regularly. Both stood together for a 179 runs stand, the record partnership of a Pakistan pair against England in one day internationals.
Babar Azam didn’t start his Edgbaston inning from where his last Edgbaston outing ended, against New Zealand in World Cup 2019, as he struggled to get going in the start against England but in the end, finished on high with his career-best of 158.
Babar Azam reached his 14th ODI hundred during his record stand with Muhammad Rizwan and became the quickest to reach 14 ODI hundreds. He took 81 innings to reach the milestone. He also became the first Pakistan captain to score 150 in ODIs. When Mohammad Rizwan got out in the 46th over, Pakistan might have dreamed of 350, but wickets started regularly falling as Bryden Carse completed his fifer; all 5 dismissals came in his last 2 overs that helped England restrict Pakistan to 331.
Magnificent James Vince helps England chase record target
England were so good and accurate in line and length with the new ball that Pakistan were playing with a run-rate of 3.50 by the 20th over, and it looked as if a target of 250 will also be enough on this kind of track. With the passage of time, the behavior of the pitch changed, and the ball started coming on the bat easily; this is where somehow, England remained beneficiaries of the conditions. Phil Salt and Zak Crawley played shorts everywhere in Edgbaston and stole quick 84 runs in the powerplay.
Pakistan also kept on taking the wickets regularly despite 3 dropped catches. When England reached 165, that’s almost half of the target. Pakistan had sent half of the English side back to the pavilion. Things would have been better if wickets were taken without leaking too many runs but what kept Pakistan on the back foot right from the start is the style of English batters.
England scored at least one boundary in each over until the 21st over, and that’s why when Lewis Gregory joined James Vince in the middle, England had to score with a run-rate of just over 6, that’s almost run a bowl, and that’s why when England required just 119 off 108, Pakistan started feeling the heat and were totally down when both batters succeeded in bringing the equation further down to 38 of 43, this time less than run a ball even.
By the start of the 45th over, both Vince and Gregory had gone back, but the required runs and run-rate wasn’t a big deal for the remaining batters. Vince scored 102 off 95 balls, whereas Lewis Gregory played a superb knock of 77 off 69. From Pakistan, Haris Rauf took four wickets while conceding 65 runs, but when Pakistan’s best bowlers in Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi, conceded 147 runs for 1 wicket in 19 overs, there was nothing left for the skipper to attack with.
Why is Pakistan Struggling?
Pakistan team is struggling as a unit as we have seen the failures of Pakistan batting, bowling, and fielding combined in this recent series. In the first game, the team was bowled out for just 142 while the batting department failed to chase a target of 248 on a batting-friendly wicket of Lord’s. In the third game, Babar helped the team reach 331, but the top-order started too watchfully, in contrast to England’s first 25 overs, and that’s where the team fell short of at least 30 runs.
Pakistan isn’t the same team that used to defend 250 also. Although pitches and conditions have also changed significantly but in the third ODI, when Pakistan couldn’t defend 331, and main bowlers bowled wicket-less expensive spells, cricket experts criticized Pakistani bowlers for lacking accuracy and variety required on English tracks.
In the fielding department, Pakistan dropped catches as well as leaked runs. When you drop quality players twice while giving easy singles, you can’t hope to win, at least not against England in their home conditions.
What can be improved in T20Is?
Pakistan needs to change almost everything, from its style of cricket to its mindset. The team couldn’t adjust to English conditions in the first game and was bowled out at a tiny total of 142. Once second-string England won the first ODI and international media came up with plenty of negative headlines, it looked as if players went into a mental trauma since they looked off-color and under pressure right after that.
It looks as if team management and players are scared of defeats and experiments. When a team plays with this sort of mindset, it can neither perform nor enjoy the matches. Pakistan has to get out of this pressure and trauma as soon as possible because they will face the main team of England as Eoin Morgan and company is back and some performers of the recent ODI series will also join them. To face them, Pakistan has to play fearless cricket with the skills and tactics required in the T20 format, wicket, and opposition.