Pakistan punish poor England fielding to put hosts under pressure
Dropped catches and misfields blight Eoin Morgan’s men at Trent Bridge.
England must make World Cup history to maintain their 100 per cent start to the tournament after a loose display in the field saw Pakistan post 348 for eight at Trent Bridge.
Mohammad Hafeez benefited from being dropped on 14 by Jason Roy, one of a number of fielding errors from England, to top score with 84 from 62 balls as Pakistan bounced back after being skittled for 105 against the West Indies.
Having wilted to the short ball last week, Pakistan showed no such weaknesses today and their resilient display has left England needing to set a new record for the highest successful chase in the tournament.
Ireland’s remarkable 329 for seven against England eight years ago is the current benchmark, though Eoin Morgan’s men are set to bat on a wicket on which they have posted two world-record totals.
Chris Woakes came in for particular punishment but did at least take three wickets and four fine catches – one off his own bowling – on a day when England’s fielding was uncharacteristically sub-par.
Babar Azam (63) and Sarfraz Ahmed (55 from 44 balls) also posted fifties to give Pakistan hope of ending an 11-match losing sequence in one-day internationals.
Mark Wood came in for Liam Plunkett in the only change to the England side that defeated South Africa in the tournament curtain-raiser but it was Woakes and Jofra Archer who took the new balls.
Despite beating the bat on a regular basis on a surface that initially showed signs of being two-paced, England’s pacemen gave width to Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman as they raced to a half-century stand after only 44 balls.
The partnership was ended on 82 when Moeen Ali found some sharp turn to have Fakhar stumped for 36 while Imam departed for 44 after clothing the spinner to Woakes, who ran to take a marvellous diving catch at deep extra cover.
Woakes put a finger to his lips in celebration in an apparent reaction to the treatment he was receiving from a section of the vocal Pakistan support.
Roy, though, was more charitable as he dropped a steepler off Hafeez, who, alongside Babar, grew steadily in confidence as they put on 88 for the third wicket.
Both Babar and Hafeez dispatched Adil Rashid for maximums although the former was out for 63 after aiming a booming drive off Moeen to Woakes at long-on.
Hafeez brought up a 39-ball half-century and seemed poised for the first hundred of the tournament, only to be caught in the deep by Woakes.
But some lusty blows from their captain Sarfraz, which was matched by the lower order in the closing stages of an innings in which England grew increasingly ragged, carried Pakistan to a highly challenging score.