Bairstow century takes England to victory stand against Pakistan
BRISTOL: Jonny Bairstow s commanding hundred was the centerpiece of England s dominant six-wicket win over Pakistan in the third one-day international at Bristol on Tuesday as the World Cup hosts showed they could chase, as well as set, a target.
England generally prefers batting first but captain Eoin Morgan decided to give them an experience of chasing just weeks away from the World Cup by opting to field first after winning the toss.
Earlier, Imam-ul-Haq made a career-best 151 in Pakistan’s 358 for nine, with England paceman Chris Woakes taking four for 67. The 23-year-old left-hander’s innings was also the highest individual score by a Pakistan batter against England at this level, surpassing the 138 made by his opening partner, Fakhar Zaman, in a 12-run defeat at Southampton on the previous match held on Saturday that left the home side 1-0 up in this five-match series.
Meanwhile, Chris Woakes did his chances of being included in tournament hosts England’s final 15-man squad for the World Cup no harm with a return of four wickets for 67 runs in a maximum 10 overs.
Warwickshire pace-bowling all-rounder Woakes made an early double strike to reduce Pakistan to 27 for two after Morgan won the toss and decided to let England chase — they generally prefer to bat first — ahead of the World Cup.
Woakes’ last ball of the first over, an excellent full-length delivery, had Fakhar edging to second slip where Test skipper Joe Root held a juggled catch.
Number three Babar Azam was then clean bowled by a Woakes off-cutter.
But new batter Haris Sohail was quickly into his stride in ideal batting conditions on a sunny day.
The left-hander hit two superbly timed fours off successive Woakes deliveries through point and then drove David Willey through the covers for a boundary.
But Sohail’s excellent run-a-ball 41 came to an unfortunate end when called through for a single by Imam, he was run out by bowler Tom Curran kicking the ball onto the striker’s-end stumps.
Pakistan were then 95 for three in the 17th over.
But Imam and Asif Ali, whose 52 was his second successive fifty, repaired the damage with a fifth-wicket partnership of 125.
Imam, the nephew of Pakistan great and selection chief Inzamam-ul-Haq, went to his sixth hundred in 27 ODIs — and first against England — off 97 balls.
He continued to take the attack to England, driving Willey for a straight six and next ball glancing the left-arm quick for four.
Asif holed out off Woakes and Imam’s excellent innings ended when he was bowled, giving himself room, by Curran.
Imam faced 131 balls including 16 fours and a six.
Tailenders Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi hit out to leave England, who had also rested Jos Buttler following the star batter’s blistering 110 not out at Southampton, with a decent chase for victory.