A lot of emails are coming in along the lines of this one from Sam Hedges: “… this new England, doesn’t matter if they lose a few wickets.. .they bat deep. They know how to put runs on the scoreboard… not such thing as SB pressure to them… What? …. Oh. How far could this performance set us back? Or has the pitch got something in it for the bowlers, even with such a low total. to defend?”
There is something in it for the bowlers, certainly, and England have what it takes to win this game still but all the English self-criticism is rather overlooking just how well Pakistan performed in the field just there. There were no weak links in the bowling, from the reliable slow accuracy of Hafeez to the thrilling menace of Hassan, who’s now the tournament’s leading wicket taker with 10, and deserves to be. He’s some talent.
There are, one suspects, plenty more twists and turns to come in this match, and who better to steer you through and around them than Rob Smyth, to whom I’m handing over now. Thanks for all your emails, tweets and lizard-based Yorkshire conspiracy theorists. Bye.
England all out 211 from 49.5 overs!
49.5 overs: England 211 (Wood run out 3, Ball 2*) Junaid is given the last over, as he had the first, and begins uncharacteristically sloppily with an overstep and a no-ball. The free hit is squandered as No11 Ball steps back, makes space to cut – and misses completely. Two more attempted yorkers bring two more dot balls before Ball gets hold of one in the way few higher up the order did, but his high straight slog doesn’t quite go the distance and lands just short, bringing two runs as it’s well retrieved in tandem by the ropes. Ball then swings and misses, they run anyway, but Wood’s never going to make his ground and it’s an easy run out for Sarfraz.
49th over: England 207-9 (Wood 2, Ball 0) Wood plays and misses at Raees, before getting off the mark with a glance down to third man before – at last! – a boundary, the first since the 39th over, an inelegant slash and edge down to the third man boundary from Plunkett, who perishes next ball with a high pull to backward square leg where Azhar Ali takes a fine catch at shoulder height. Raees ends with figures of 2-44 from nine overs.
Wicket! Plunkett c Azhar b Raees 9, England 206-9
Plunkett pulls high and not quite handsome on the legside and Azhar Ali, on the run, takes the catch smartly.
48th over: England 201-8 (Plunkett 5, Wood 0) Hassan Ali begins his final over by blotting his copy-book with a front-foot no ball, giving Plunkett a free hit. which he can only inside-edge down to fine leg for a hasty two (he’d have been run out had the fielder hit). Plunkett adds another single before Stokes endures more frustration as angled slower ball follows him and beats him as he steps outside leg-stump. His torment is ended next ball when he scoops up a slower ball to Hafeez, who takes an easy catch. It’s Hassan’s third wicket, and even that stat barely does justice to just how compellingly well he’s bowled today. He finishes here with figures of 10-0-35-3.
Wicket! Stokes c Hafeez b Hassan Ali 34, England 201-8
Stokes’s torment is over, foxed by a slower ball from Hassan that he can only scoop up to extra-cover where Hafeez is waiting to take an easy catch.
47th over: England 196-7 (Stokes 33, Plunkett 2) Stokes is trying for the bigger hits now, but only gets a two followed by a one off the first two balls of Raees’s over. The debutant pegs Plunkett back with a brilliant inswinging yorker from around the wicket. Raees mixes it up with a bouncer at Stokes that is called wide, and another single completes the over. Drink this stat in: Ben Stokes has 33 from 61 balls with no (count ‘em) boundaries
46th over: England 190-7 (Stokes 30, Plunkett 1) Stokes is denied a two off Hassan when he slips at the non-striker’s end after completing the first run following a drive to long-on. The new man Plunkett is tied up by Hassan giving him absolutely nothing, room-wise, angling it in at him. Even his loose full tosses can’t be dealt with, as Hassan fields smartly from Plunkett’s attempted swipe. A slice to third man then brings a single, but England just can’t step on the gas here.
45th over: England 187-7 (Stokes 27, Plunkett 1) Stokes still can’t get his timing right, toe-ending another cut in front of square off Raees for a mere one – almost as if he’s channeling Boycott and Brearley in the 1979 World Cup final here. Plunkett pulls for one to get off the mark before Stokes turns a low full toss down to deep square leg for a swiftly-run two. A single to long-on then at least enables him to keep the strike.
44th over: England 182-7 (Stokes 23, Plunkett 0) Hassan the man is back, digging one i in short from round the wicket at Stokes, who can’t get his pull shot onto it in time and just bangs it back into the ground. The next one he does get hold of, but can only pull it to deep backward square leg for a single. Rashid is then run out after trying to dig out Hassan’s inswinging yorker and darting towards the other end, failing to beat Shehzad’s direct hit. A single to Stokes is all England can eke from the remainder of the over.
“Is it all right to laugh?” asks Romeo. It’s probably the best medicine.
Wicket! Rashid run out 7, England 181-7
Hassan has an lbw shout at Rashid after spearing one into his pads – they rush a single, it’s unwise, as Shehzad the sub fielder picks up and throws down the stumps with a direct hit and Rashid is out of his ground.
43rd over: England 180-6 (Stokes 21, Rashid 7) Imad Wasim has had to leave the field, having incurred some kind of knack when (mis)fielding that Stokes clip for two in the previous over. Raees replaces Junaid, and does Rashid like a proverbial (or even actual) kipper with an angled outswinger, following it up with a quicker ball that jags into his midriff but enables Rashid to pick up a scurried single. A bouncer is then called wide, prompting pantomime boos from Pakistan’s supporters. Stokes can’t find the gap with a forceful pull towards mid-on, and can only add a single with a hurried push to mid-off from a slower ball. This has been a tremendous display in the field from Pakistan.
42nd over: England 177-6 (Stokes 20, Rashid 6) Shadab continues to bowl tightly, conceding a couple of pushed singles. Stokes just can’t cut loose, with Shadab following his footwork and cramping him up when the left-hander tries to give himself space wide of the crease. He does get two courtesy of a misfield though, but still no boundaries.
41st over: England 173-6 (Stokes 17, Rashid 5) Middle-order collapses have been something of a feature of this tournament, a feature from which England looked immune until today. They’re still struggling to get on the front foot against the lively Junaid, who yields only four singles from his eight over. He’s gone for only 37 today. We could be heading for a low-scoring classic here. Proper Cricket.
40th over: England 169-6 (Stokes 15, Rashid 3) Rashid steers Shadab elegantly behind point to get off the mark with two. Another single brings Stokes to the strike, but he can’t fully master Shadab’s combinations, and there are only four runs from the over. And we go into an intriguing last powerplay.
“Ells bells, what a carry on,” worries Andrew Benton. “What’s hampering England? They play as if they went on a picnic with a huge Harrods hamper and stuffed and drank themselves happy, and have just realised there is an important cricket match to play. The only alternative – this could be an example of “covfefe”, snatching success from the brink of failure, aka Andy Murray.”
39th over: England 165-6 (Stokes 14, Rashid 0) We still have pace at one end, as Junaid continues and, after a Stokes single, strikes, inducing Moeen to hook a short ball down to Fakhar at deep square leg who takes a brilliant catch. There’s a big responsibility plonked on Ben Stokes’s sturdy shoulders now – England couldn’t half do with having Woakes fit right now – as a couple more singles complete the over.
That doesn’t completely surprise me, given England’s increasing strengths with the ball and Pakistan’s unreliable batting.
Wicket! Moeen c Fakhar b Junaid 11, England 162-6
Moeen hooks into the deep and Fakhar Zaman takes a magnificent high running catch, and Pakistan have another treasured scalp.
38th over: England 161-5 (Stokes 10, Moeen 11) Spin returns to the attack, in the form of the redoubtable Hafeez (there are suggestions Hassan might have a touch of cramp). Moeen and Stokes each crack a single before Moeen properly gets holds off one, scooping high over midwicket off the front foot for four. England have no option but to seek to attack the spinners now.
37th over: England 155-5 (Stokes 9, Moeen 6) There is plenty of movement both in the air and off the seam at the moment, which England’s own bowlers are going to have to take succour from, because their batsmen are continuing to struggle to assert themselves. Stokes tries to attack Junaid but can’t time anything past the infield – four very good dot balls are followed by a quick single as a forced back-foot off-drive is fumbled at mid-off before Moeen pulls another single to deep square leg. Notions of reaching a 300+ total look particularly fanciful right now.
36th over: England 153-5 (Stokes 8, Moeen 5) The over starts with a rash play and miss by Moeen at an away-swinger from Hassan, who produces an even better one next ball, angled in and jagging away, just missing the batsman’s edge and the top of off-stump. Proper “that were too good for thee” stuff. Brilliant. Four dot balls are followed by a much-needed boundary, a not wholly convincing square drive for four but it was timed well enough by Moeen even if not quite where he aimed it. He’s not had much batting time in this tournament and it shows at the moment, though he’s up against some bowling of the highest class from Hassan.
35th over: England 149-5 (Stokes 8, Moeen 1) Junaid joins in the fun, finding a low edge to remove England’s big late-overs dangerman, Buttler, first ball after the break. There’s pressure on Stokes and the new man, Moeen, now. Moeen’s off the mark with a bunted single through the legside off a full toss before Stokes plays away three dot balls and opts to leave a short sharp lifter outside off-stump. Stokes has eight runs off 23 balls, but England need him to stick around now until well beyond the 40th over.
Wicket! Buttler c Sarfraz b Junaid 4, England 148-5
Junaid strikes, first ball after drinks, moving one a fraction off the seam and Buttler edges low to the keeper. England in some bother now.
34th over: England 148-4 (Stokes 8, Buttler 4) More probing assertive stuff from Hassan, from which England can winkle out only two more singles. I think they’re going to pause now, while jugs of orange squash and plastic cups are brought out by whoever’s turn it is to do the teas today. Drinks.
“Googling ‘Anti-Yorkshire Space Lizard Conspiracy’ gets only one hit, this OBO” writes Robin Hazlehurst, revealing the fruits of his productive morning, “while googling ‘Anti-Yorkshire Conspiracy’ gets more, all of which are denying there is a conspiracy. Absolute cast-iron proof right there that there is one, and it must be run by space lizards as nobody had earlier accused them. Obviously. That’s how conspiracy theories work isn’t it?” I couldn’t possibly tell you either way, Robin, otherwise …
33rd over: England 146-4 (Stokes 7, Buttler 3) Sarfraz, buoyed, brings back Junaid Khan to his attack. He concedes a couple of singles before zinging a brilliant bouncer past the advancing Buttler. They take two more ones before Buttler swings and misses at another delivery that certainly offered some lateral movement. Can still be a bowler’s game, this.
32nd over: England 142-4 (Stokes 5, Buttler 1) Hassan returns, with six overs still to bowl, this time from the river end. He gets some bounce and pins Morgan back, and after an unhurried single, Hassan finds the edge of Stokes’s bat, but it brings only a single to third man. The edge Hassan finds next ball is rather more decisive though, Morgan attempting a fearsome back-foot drive against one that jags away from him off the seam and only edging to the keeper. Hassan has done it again against the left-handers. Buttler, in earlier than England would have liked, gets off the mark with a cover drive for one. England’s two most exciting batsmen are now in, against Pakistan’s most exciting bowler. It’s must-watch stuff (if you’ve got access for paid-for telly)
“As a conspiratorial space lizard,” croaks Bob O’Hara, “I just want to apologise to Durham for the mess-up last season. I’m afraid our galactic ray mis-fired after a seagull dropped a stick of rhubarb on the secondary emissions regulator. We would also like to know if you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of a Mr Gary Naylor, as he seems to have absconded with 16 trillion Arcobills.”
Wicket! Morgan c Sarfraz b Hassan 33, England 141-4
And another! Hassan does it again, inducing Morgan to slash and edge outside off-stump in frustration, and the keeper takes it easy. This is a major scalp.
31st over: England 139-3 (Morgan 32, Stokes 4) The all-spin continues, with a let-off for Morgan off Hafeez, who hacks and misses outside leg stump. It misses the stumps by a whisker, ricochets off the keeper and lands in the hands of the man at leg-slip. Hafeez continues to offer neither variation nor easy hits to England, and it’s working, in terms of stemming the flow of runs. Three singles are all that this over yields.
30th over: England 136-3 (Morgan 30, Stokes 3) Shadab tucks up Morgan for a couple of balls before the left-hander gets forward and assertively reverse sweeps high off the front foot for four through the vacant third man area. Masterful cricket from the captain. Six from the over in total.
29th over: England 130-3 (Morgan 25, Stokes 2) Neither Morgan nor Stokes can get Hafeez away, and a languid Stokes single is all that England can muster. Slow and steady is doing the job for Hafeez here, for the moment.
28th over: England 129-3 (Morgan 25, Stokes 1) Shadab breaks the partnership. Root, who had gently shimmied towards a half-century without attracting much attention, edges behind on 46, having hit only two boundaries. Will we have a gear change now Stokes is in? He’s defensive off his first two balls, the second of which is a wonderful googly pitched outside leg stump, before getting off the mark with a push straight on the offside for a single. For all my pre-match eulogies to Pakistani pace, more than half their overs so far have been spin, and it’s been pretty damn effective.
Wicket! Root c Sarfraz b Shadab 46, England 128-3
This one IS out. Root steps back and tries to cut Shadab, but the pace and bounce foxes him and he edges behind.
27th over: England 127-2 (Root 46, Morgan 24) Root, who’s been in a bit of a backseat role so far, takes a single off Hafeez, who continues to just probe an accurate line, conceding one more single and a ramped Root two.
“Being a Yorkshireman (in exile),” writes Ben Powell. “I obviously fully concur with the possibility of an Anti-Yorkshire-Space-Lizard-Conspiracy. I note YJB scored, though, in excess of Roy’s tally from 3 innings so am more than happy that England haven’t stuck with the stable line-up option. I’m more worried that this match looks as if the clock has been turned back 20 years or so to a late ‘90s approach to ODI batting. Or am I just spoilt rotten by recent batting displays?” You’re being spoiled a bit really – plenty of time to come yet, and Pakistan have bowled decently.
26th over: England 123-2 (Root 43, Morgan 23) Another England escape. Morgan is given out after sweeping and nudging behind to the keeper but reviews. And hot-spot shows it didn’t hit the glove, just his arm. They check for the lbw, but it’s going well over the top, and the captain survives. He celebrates by lashing the last ball of the over through the covers for four.
“I saw Anti-Yorkshire Space Lizard Conspiracy supporting Sons of Ishmael at The Wigan Den in 1991,” quips Aidan Taylor. “Not as good as their early demos suggested.”
25th over: England 118-2 (Root 42, Morgan 19) Hafeez comes on at the other end, replacing Hassan after four overs. He drops one short and is punished by a rare boundary of pedigree, a forceful pull past midwicket to the ropes. The quick singles are being well run too, and there’s a feeling that the England captain is setting himself up nicely here. England reach the halfway stage having hit only 10 boundaries, but you wouldn’t bet against them trebling that tally, at least, in the remainder of the innings.
24th over: England 111-2 (Root 40, Morgan 14) Shadab comes back into the attack, and gives little away either – three singles, but no wickets, so there is a real sense that this one could go either way.
“I’m not having a slow day at work,” writes Paul Billington, while his boss is having a coffee break, “so have only had a reasonably short space of time to contemplate why Roy was dropped. I had thought it was because he wasn’t playing very well, but now I’m starting to wonder if the anti-Yorkshire-space-lizard-conspiracy is actually the reason.” Anti-Yorkshire Space Lizard Conspiracy would be a decent name for a novelty political party standing in a high-profile by-election, I reckon. You read this idea first here.
23rd over: England 108-2 (Root 38, Morgan 13) The boundary famine is ended, in less than convincing fashion, as Morgan’s miscued pull goes past the diving wicketkeeper Sarfraz and races down to the short boundary at the River Taff End. Hassan continues to bowl excellently though, varying his pace and not offering anything loose. Root’s well-timed, clipped single completes a more productive over for England however.
22nd over: England 101-2 (Root 36, Morgan 8) Root punts Hafeez down the ground for a single, Morgan flicks another. Two more ones take England to three figures, but boundaries continue to elude them. None of which means a big 300+ total is yet beyond them, as long as batting pairs stay together.
“It’s all very well Chris Drew and the other 6,457 thundering their unhappiness at my rather flippant remark. Yet I think they’re all non Yorkist supporters who were thinking it anyway,” continues Lee Smith, who seems to be having a slow morning at work. “The Yorkies are now distracted from the England match and are contemplating why Roy was dropped.”
21st over: England 96-2 (Root 33, Morgan 6) Root takes a quick single off Hassan, who continues to cramp Morgan up intelligently by spearing it into the left-hander from a wide angle. The England captain, now past 5,000 career ODI runs, can only deal in ones at the moment, as can Root. Only three from another high-calibre over, meaning England have now gone seven overs without a boundary.
20th over: England 93-2 (Root 31, Morgan 5) Sarfraz’s strategy of aggressive pace at one end and defensive spin at the other is earning plaudits from Ricky Ponting, who’s been something of a find as a pundit in this tournament. A couple of singles precede a rather hasty reverse-sweep attempt by Morgan, nudged from bat to pad, prompting a hopeful shout from Hafeez, but they’ve used their reviews anyhow. Two singles and a square-cut for two from the England captain is the hosts’ yield from the over.