Dubai: After 11 successive losses, it was an important match for Pakistan to prove the world and themselves they are not a spent force and get the confidence back after a drubbing at the hands of West Indies in their opening clash.
The response from one of the unpredictable teams in world cricket was perfect. The openers laid the perfect foundation and the momentum was maintained by the following batsmen to score a whopping 350 against the hosts England at the Oval on Monday.
Faced with a record chase, as the previous highest successful chase was 329 by Ireland against England in the 2011 World Cup, England had the ammunition to underline their status as the No. 1 team in the world rankings. But it had to come against a superior and varied bowling attack led by the likes of Mohammad Amir, ably supported by Wahab Riaz and Shadab Khan, who incidentally opened the bowling.
But despite losing early wickets, Joe Root and Jos Buttler threatened to take the match away from under Pakistan’s nose, building a 130-run partnership for the fifth wicket. The two home batsmen made batting look so easy that it makes one wonder if their bats had a magnet, which attracted the ball to the middle en route to the boundary.
Pakistan’s win percentage started diminishing as fast as Amir and Riaz bowled their spells. The wicket of Root against the run of play when the match was in the balance, rather a soft dismissal after a life early on in the innings, off Shadab Khan was the gaping hole Pakistan utilised to perfection to sink England ship that was riding the crest of a wave.