After Bangladesh defeated South Africa, we headed to Nottingham where hosts England played Pakistan.
England was high on confidence after thrashing South Africa while Pakistan was still reeling from being bowled out for 105 against the West Indies. With a flat pitch on offer and the match being a day game, England won the toss and elected to bowl.
Since he offered extra pace, Mark Wood came in for Liam Plunkett while Pakistan made two changes – Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik in for Haris Sohail and Imad Wasim.
During the powerplay, only three things occurred – countless dot balls, many boundaries and edges falling past slip. Pakistan’s openers Imam Ul Haq (44 off 58) and Fakhar Zaman (36 off 40) gave England some headaches before both openers were removed within the 21st over.
Pakistan was 2-111 and veteran Mohammad Hafeez joined star batsman Babar Azam at the crease.
Hafeez’s intentions were clear from ball one, hitting Moeen Ali over mid-off for four in his first delivery. He raced off to 14 off 11 before skying one towards long-off.
Jason Roy dropped a sitter. How much would that cost England?
Nasser Hussain mentioned on commentary that the sun may have been in his eyes. Textbook error for fielders to have the sun in their eyes while their shades are on top of their cap. Babar Azam and Hafeez put on a rapid 88 run stand before Azam was caught at long-on for a well-made 63.
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (55 off 44) joined Hafeez, and the pair started motoring through the gears. England’s bowlers had no answers as the pair put on 80 until Hafeez was caught for a 62 ball 84.
Pakistan lost five wickets in their last eight overs, but they had scored 77 runs in the process. With a score of 8-348, England would have to pull off a World Cup record run-chase. With a flat pitch on offer and England boasting a powerful batting line-up, they had the goods to chase it down.
With Jason Roy being a slow starter against spin, leg-spinner Shadab Khan was brought in to open the bowling. The tactic worked as Roy was dismissed for eight as he tried to sweep a full-length delivery.
Joe Root came in and was dropped on nine at slip. Was that the slice of luck England needed for this run chase? Jonny Bairstow was looking the goods before departing for a quickfire 32.
England were slowly slipping away from the game as Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes were dismissed cheaply. The Poms went 4-118 in the 22nd over and the required run rate was climbing.
Jos Buttler came in, and his counter-attacking style was the perfect mould for Joe Root to go about his business. The pair rotated the strike and hit the odd boundary to keep England in the game.
Root reached his century off 97 balls, and when he raised his bat, England needed 111 off 76 balls. Game on. But just when he needed to bat on, Root gifted his wicket away. Buttler reached his century off 75 balls, but Mohammad Amir dismissed the English wicketkeeper the next ball.
61 needed off 34, and it was up to the all-rounders to chase this down for England. Bar two or three bad balls, Wahab Riaz and Amir hardly dished up any freebies to the English lower order as they struggled to get the big hits. England tried to smash their way to victory but ended up with 9-334 in the end.
Pakistan had won by 14 runs, and it was the first upset of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Before this encounter, Pakistan had lost 11 of its past 12 ODIs (with one no result). They had been thrashed by the West Indies three days ago. A 4-0 series loss to England in a bilateral series a few weeks ago.
But the unpredictability of Pakistan cricket was on display once again in this game. It was peak Pakistan – thrashed in one game, cause an upset in the other. In the bilateral series against England, Pakistan had lost by three wickets in a thriller trying to defend 340.
But the pressure of a World Cup game and a different XI led to a great win in Pakistan history. For England, it would be back to the drawing board before they encounter Bangladesh in Cardiff in five days.
Pakistan 8-348 (Mohammad Hafeez 84, Babar Azam 63, Moeen Ali 3-50, Chris Woakes 3-71) beat England 9-334 (Joe Root 107, Jos Buttler 103, Wahab Riaz 3-82, Shadab Khan 3-62) by 14 runs.