PAKISTAN’S TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2019
Azam registered his ninth ODI century. © Getty
Babar Azam’s ninth One-Day International ton helped Pakistan post 340 for 7 at Trent Bridge after being put in to bat first in the fourth ODI, on Friday (May 17). Azam made 115 off 112 while Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez struck half-centuries to give Pakistan what probably will be a par score considering the short boundaries and a pitch designed to please the batsmen.
England, after winning the toss, made the perfect start in the first four overs. Jofra Archer hit the mid 140s while Mark Wood constantly troubled the batsmen as his pace consistently breached the high 140s-mark. Both Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman were tied down with just 12 runs coming in the period. The former, however, had to retire hurt as he missed a pacy back of length ball from Wood and was pinged on the left elbow. Azam’s arrival at the crease instantly put the pressure back of the bowlers as he constantly peppered the cover boundary.
Zaman and Azam scored 107 for the second wicket to help Pakistan get off the blocks. At the 20-over mark, the visitors had 116 on the board and had lost just one wicket, of Zaman as he tried to slash at a wide one and was caught at third man. Hafeez, back in the side, complimented Azam stroke by stroke as the pair continued to frustrate England. The duo took Pakistan to 220 in the 37th over with a 104-run stand. Hafeez was nipped out with a short one and six deliveries later Azam got to his ton with a boundary to fine-leg off 105 deliveries.
At the 30-over mark, CricViz data predicted Pakistan posting 333. But more importantly, gave England a 63 per cent chance of chasing it down. The Pakistan batsmen, unfortunately with the coin falling in England’s favour, spent the whole innings chasing a tall total knowing no score is safe at the venue. Once Hafeez fell, the pressure on Azam mounted as he had to bat through and ensure the score was at least north of 370. England did really well in the last ten overs – getting ride of dangerous Azam and Asif Ali (17).
Pakistan looked set to cruise past 300 in the first 30 overs but the thought of giving their bowlers an additional cushion meant they batted constantly under pressure. Short ball resulted in the wickets of Hafeez, Azam and Ali and Pakistan then failed to find the much-needed late push. Azam’s century was the ninth individual century for Pakistan – the most any side has hit in 2019. They have, however, won just two ODIs this year. They would want to add another win to their tally having been out-batted and out-paced in the series so far.
Brief scores: Pakistan 340/7 in 50 overs (Babar Azam 115; Tom Curran 4-75) vs England.