Let’s just start with a distinctive stat, shall we? England, since 2016, have played 20 matches at home; have won 17 of them, tied one and have been at the end of no-result twice. A fortress well preserved.
Well, not anymore.
Pakistan, who arrived at Nottingham on the back of 11 straight ODI defeats, once again determined why they remain little fazed about the results of yesterdays. For England, there were many milestones to take note of. For the starters, they have now scored 300+ total on six consecutive occasions. Joint most by any side in a calendar year. Furthermore, Joe Root became the first player to score a ton at this World Cup. So many positives, yet the deities decided to end up being in Pakistan’s favour.
This victory for Sarfaraz Ahmed and his men, however, was never about being lucky. It was about the grit they showcased at a time when it mattered the most. Put in to bat first by the English captain, Eoin Morgan, the thought of defending even a grandest of total at a venue like Trent Bridge was always going to be as laborious as one can think. But well, that’s Pakistan for you.
The sweetest revenge, as we speak, remains the fact that Pakistan actually ended their losing streak against the favourites themselves. Posting 348 on board, it was Sarfaraz’s masterclass to actually open the bowling with Shadab Khan that sowed the seeds of an English collapse. “We started with Shadab today because we know they're not good batsmen against spin - Roy and Bairstow,” said the Pakistan captain in his post-match interview.
Congratulations to the Pakistan cricket team for a great win and for coming back into form after a poor start in the warm up matches and the first WC match. You have the talent, all you need is the self belief that you can go all the way.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 3, 2019
And the spinner duly returned the faith in the best way possible, ending his tally with 63/2 in 10 overs.
As for the batting, the hammering done by the Windies bowling attack through their short-pitch approach was still hurting Pakistan in a way. And England, on their part, loomed with a similar tactic by instilling Mark Wood into the line-up. But as it seemed, Pakistan were well equipped for what England were to throw. And of all people, it was Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes who leaked most runs.
From here on in the competition, for Pakistan, it's all about maintaining the equilibrium. They just cannot afford to take their foot off the gas. They need to match their batting to that of their bowling excellence just as they did against England. On paper, Pakistan’s middle order remains their utmost frailty on paper. But that wasn’t really the case against England. Their innings was rather built on a strong middle-order display.
Furthermore, this victory is also a testament to why the Pakistani selectors were adamant on including Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz in their World Cup-bound squad. On a ground as small as at in Trent Bridge, it was this duo’s experience that helped Pakistan maintain a strong hold the English batting. As of now, this Pakistan team have announced themselves in the best way possible, and who knows what lies in store for them for the rest of the tournament.
Until then, it is their day to celebrate.
Feature image courtesy: AFP Photo/ Lindsey Parnaby