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After a shocking and perhaps shameful defeat against a Second-string England side in the first of the three-match ODI series, Pakistan’s story in the second ODI at Lord’s did not come in contrast to the previous one. The batting department collapsed, and the team was bowled out at 142 in Cardiff; batting again struggled, and the team couldn’t chase down a target of 248, which was considered an easy one for the green shirts on a batting-friendly wicket of Lords’.
Impressive Start by Pakistan
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam won the toss and decided to bowl first; the morning showers in London stimulated the idea. Swing and seam with the new ball early on were on the cards, and English top orders were sent back to the pavilion cheaply. It was a good toss to win from this perspective, and Babar’s decision was proven right as England lost both David Malan and Zak Crawley for ducks, and hosts were 21/2 in no time.
After achieving the desired results in the powerplay, Pakistani bowlers who followed Shaheen and Hasan couldn’t maintain pressure on Phil Salt and James Vince. They stood together for a 97 runs partnership at the third wicket. After Haris and Faheem leaked plenty of boundaries and Pakistan were sent at the back foot by Salt-Vince stand, spinners came into the business and removed both settled batsmen who had crossed their half-centuries with strike rates of over 100.
Babar added more pressure on the new batsmen with the introduction of Hasan Ali for the second spell. Hasan removed Stokes, Simpson, and Overton for cheap runs to put the hosts into trouble. England had been 160/7 in the process, and it looked as if a target of over 200 would be challenging to set up from here.
How Second-string England Came back?
When England were in real trouble after losing seven wickets for just 160, Babar realized that he needed to go back towards the other options, leaving some overs of Hasan Ali to be utilized later. The strategy backfired as out of form, Faheem Ashraf and Haris Rauf failed to bowl well in those middle overs, bowled short and wide, giving a lot of room to the batsmen. This phase of the English inning shifted the momentum back towards England, who had no intentions to lose it again.
Lewis Gregory and Brydon Carse produced a partnership of 69 runs for the 8th wicket. Pakistan skipper went back towards the main bowlers like Shaheen and Hasan, but the duo had settled down by the time Babar realized the importance of their wickets. Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali took the last three wickets; Hasan got a five wickets-haul in ODIs after four years, which declares his return at the international circuit with complete form and energy.
But by the time Pakistan bowled out all ten wickets of second-string England, they had posted a total of 247, a target of almost 250, which was considered to be enough for an out of form and unprepared Pakistani department.
Pressure on Pakistan Batting
Pakistan were surprised by English bowlers in the first ODI, bowled out for just 142. So, when Pakistani openers walked in, the only thing in their minds was to avoid the danger of the new ball. Imam Ul Haq confused an out-swing of Lewis Gregory with the in-swing and gave away an easy catch at the second slip. Babar Azam was bowled leg before on an outstanding delivery of the in-form Saqib Mahmood.
Stokes added extra pressure on the following batsmen, and as a result, Muhammad Rizwan failed to get a start while Fakhar Zaman never got going in his quite long stay and lost his wicket in the 14th over, scoring 10 for 45 balls. Sohaib Maqsood smashed two balls for sixes but could not turn short stay into a longer one. Shadab and Faheem failed to get going as both batters struggled to score with proper cricket shorts, which forced them to try unorthodox shorts, resulting in their dismissals.
Hasan Ali scored quick 31, smashed Parkinson for three sixes and one four in an over. Stokes came back towards the pacers, and the fast delivery of Bryden Carse proved enough to send Hasan Ali back towards the pavilion. The story didn’t finish there as the newcomer Saud Shakil produced a couple of runs but failed to accelerate when the required run-rate crossed seven; he was forced to go for the big shot, which resulted in a catch at the deep mid-wicket. The moment Haris Rauf threw a catch to Simpson off delivery of Lewis Gregory, England won an ODI series against a strong Pakistan side with a lead of 2-0, as the last one day international is still to be played between the same sides on 13th July 2021 in Birmingham.
What can Pakistan learn?
No doubt it was a second-string England; they had tried their local talent. Still, they had enough talent and skills to outplay an Asian side with problems and issues in its batting department. Many people criticize Pakistani bowlers for being expensive or lacking the accurate line and length required to bowl on these kinds of tracks, that they were allowing Salt and Vince to score freely and were unable to bowl English lower order for cheap scores, these are their two arguments as experts criticize Pakistan’s bowling department for being ineffective in the first ODI, doesn’t matter how big or low the target was. A bowler has to execute the plan assigned by the team management.
The arguments aren’t invalid but seem inappropriate in context to the defeat in the recent series because good teams chase down the smaller targets effortlessly without getting under any kind of pressure; this is exactly what England were supposed to do. Secondly, failures of few bowlers in one or two phases are acceptable if they have reduced the opposition to a total under 250. In reality, it’s the Pakistani batting department that is struggling just as it does under challenging conditions of foreign countries. Don’t go too far; just remember how Pakistan were bowled out very cheaply in their first games in both Champions Trophy 2017 and World Cup 2019 against India and West Indies, respectively. Both of those events were played on these English pitches.
Thirdly, Pakistan made a blunder of stepping into the ODI series without playing games against the local team. This is precisely what India did against New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship 2021, and this is exactly what Pakistan should have learned.