England move step closer to a record-breaking summer run
Super-sub Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes kept England on track for an unbeaten white-ball summer with a four-wicket win over Pakistan last night.
Stokes has been a late arrival in England’s limited-overs team this season, because of his injury troubles, and Bairstow was the fifth Yorkshire player in action on his home ground only after Jos Buttler injured his hamstring in the warm-up.
They answered the call with a century stand in this fourth Royal London Series match, after England stumbled to 72 for four in pursuit of 247 for eight under lights.
The hosts, following up the record-breaking heroics of Trent Bridge — where they racked up an all-time highest one-day international total of 444 for three — have also wrapped up Andrew Strauss’ cross-format Super Series for good measure.
The 4-0 scoreline was in evident danger, albeit facing an achievable target, before Stokes (69) and Bairstow (61) got to work.
But they demonstrated England’s strength in depth to help edge this much tighter contest following the Nottingham stroll.
On a surface which brought the bowlers — especially spinners — fairly into the equation, there was never any prospect of an assault on the record books.
Only under-fire captain Azhar Ali (80) and number eight Imad Wasim (57 not out) hit half-centuries for Pakistan, as Adil Rashid (three for 47) and Moeen Ali shared five wickets.
The premise of a routine chase was undermined, however, with England in a decidedly awkward spot by the 15-over mark.
Jason Roy was caught low down by Mohammad Rizwan off Mohammad Irfan, and Alex Hales edged behind.
But England continue unbeaten in 10 limited-overs matches since their agonising near miss in the World Twenty20 final.
If they complete a whitewash in Cardiff on Sunday, then add sprint victory in Manchester, they will make history as the first English team to go through a white-ball summer undefeated.