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Unpredictable Pakistan beats England to upset CWC form book

By STEVE DOUGLASJune 3, 2019
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Pakistan's Wahab Riaz celebrates taking the wicket of England's Chris Woakes, during the Cricket World Cup match between England and Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, Monday, June 3, 2019. (David Davies/PA via AP)
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Pakistan's Wahab Riaz celebrates taking the wicket of England's Chris Woakes, during the Cricket World Cup match between England and Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, Monday, June 3, 2019. (David Davies/PA via AP)

NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Trust Pakistan to upset the form book at the Cricket World Cup.

The world’s most unpredictable team ended a run of 11 straight losses in one-day internationals by beating top-ranked England by 14 runs in a thriller at Trent Bridge on Monday.

Set 349 to win, England got centuries from Joe Root (107) and Jos Buttler (103) but couldn’t complete what would have been a record run chase at a World Cup and finished on 334-9.

After making its second-lowest World Cup total of 105 in a shambolic opening loss to West Indies , Pakistan made its second-highest score in tournament history of 348-8 against England, the host nation and favorite.

England had also beaten Pakistan 4-0 in an ODI series ahead of the World Cup and was playing on the pitch it made two world-record totals since the last World Cup — 444 against Pakistan in 2016 and Australia last year.

It was typical Pakistan to rip up the script.

“We do a lot of hard work and we believe in ourselves and we have faith we can win the World Cup,” Pakistan paceman Hasan Ali said. “People are saying we are unpredictable, but we don’t like that.”

And why can’t they win the World Cup? After all, Pakistan captured the Champions Trophy against the odds two years ago in England, having also started with a loss before beating the host nation in the semifinals and India in the final.

“I can only describe that it is total self-belief,” said Mohammad Hafeez, who top-scored with 84 off 62 balls to headline a return to form for Pakistan’s batsmen.

The pressure is now firmly on England, which got off to such a good start to its bid for a first world 50-over title by beating South Africa on the opening day of the World Cup.

The two best parts of England’s game — its batting and its fielding — fell short of its normal standards and the team was always struggling to reel in Pakistan, especially after slipping to 118-4 in the 22nd over of the chase.

“We’ll have bad days,” England captain Eoin Morgan, “but I didn’t think it was that bad.”

For a team that prides itself on its fielding, England was ragged throughout Pakistan’s innings — the tone set by a misfield from Morgan in the first over. Jason Roy dropped Hafeez on 14, which proved to be very expensive, and Root gave away a boundary in overthrows that took Sarfaraz Ahmed (55) to his half-century.

“It hasn’t happened a lot with us, but there were mistakes that we don’t normally make,” Morgan said.

It helped Pakistan make a fast start, with Fakhar Zaman (36) and Imam-ul-Haq (44) sharing an opening stand of 82. The entire team got only 23 runs more than that against the Windies.

Babar Azam (63) and Sarfaraz then added half-centuries and it was only really Moeen Ali’s offspin that was able to put the brakes on Pakistan.

Ali (3-50) took the first three wickets, the second of which saw Chris Woakes race 20 meters to his right before diving to take a two-handed catch to remove Imam.

It didn’t quite compare with Ben Stokes’ outrageous catch against South Africa but it was a rare highlight here for England, which conceded 99 off the last 10 overs to be faced with a very competitive total.

Like against South Africa, England was faced with a spinner in the first over of the innings and offspinner Shadab Khan beat Roy’s attempted sweep to trap the opener lbw for 8.

Jonny Bairstow motored to 32 before tickling Wahab Riaz behind, and Eoin Morgan (9) and Ben Stokes (13) fell cheaply.

A fifth-wicket stand of 130 between Root and Buttler — this World Cup’s first century-makers — brought England back into the contest but both players departed soon after reaching triple figures. Indeed, Buttler went the very next ball and the wicket of England’s expert finisher was the one Pakistan craved.

Needing 29 off 14 balls, England lost Ali and Woakes to successive balls from Wahab Riaz (3-82) and Pakistan ended up comfortably easing home.

“We were very disappointed we lost 11 games in a row,” Hasan said. “But one thing is very important: We believed in ourselves. We needed just a little bit kick and then we would click. We got the kick.”

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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