Pakistan v England, 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi November 13, 2015

Hales maiden hundred anchors England victory

England 283 for 5 (Hales 109, Root 63, Roy 54, Wahab 3-43) beat Pakistan 188 (Sarfraz 64, Woakes 4-33, Willey 3-25) by 95 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A maiden ODI hundred by Alex Hales followed by a display in the field of utter control as Pakistan's batsmen foundered on a slowing pitch: things could hardly have gone better in the second ODI in Abu Dhabi for an England side which sorely needed to summon a response after a heavy defeat in the opening encounter.

A target of 284 was never within Pakistan's compass as half the side departed for 50 by the 19th over, a pedestrian start during which England's pace trio imposed total control. From there, it was about damage limitation and Sarfraz Ahmed's 64 at least cut the deficit to 95 runs. By then much of the crowd was streaming away, so quick to abandon hope that Jurgen Klopp would regard Liverpool fans as steadfast by comparison.

The pitch's dormant nature had earlier caused England fleeting disquiet as they failed to achieve the 300 Hales surely envisaged when he fell for 109 from 117 balls. One minute he had a hundred to his name, feeling empowered, indeed obliged, to accelerate with England 216 for 1 with more than 11 overs remaining, the next moment he was out, and batting looked a more onerous proposition for both sides from then on.

Hales' hundred might have lacked the immediate cachet of his only other international hundred - he chose the febrile atmosphere of World Twenty20 in Bangladesh nearly two years ago to become the first England batsman to hit a century in this format. Pushing that aside, however, it was a well-judged affair, comfortably in excess of his previous best in 21 ODIs of 67, and its selective power gave the impression of a player of developing maturity. It will encourage calls for him to win a Test debut as Alastair Cook's opening partner in South Africa next month.

As Pakistan collapsed in reply, its worth was amplified. The inswing that Reece Topley found in the first ODI to slice into Pakistan's top order this time fell to his left-arm accomplice David Willey, a bowler of busier, bulkier design. Babar Azam fell lbw and there was then a hint of movement away as Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan's lynchpin throughout the tour, pushed tentatively and fell without scoring.

Pakistan do not help themselves with their constant chopping and changing at the top of the order. The experiment of playing Bilal Asif as a pinch hitter was understandably abandoned after the task looked beyond him in the first game, but the result was that Babar Azam, a source of middle-order stability in that same match, was pushed up to open when the promotion of Hafeez would have been a better option.

Three wickets then fell to Chris Woakes, an unglamorous component of England's attack, and without a wicket in six matches, but a sprinkling of cutters to leaven his back-of-the-length attack served him well. The debutant Iftikhar Ahmed and Shoaib Malik both made a botch of pulls to midwicket. The captain, Azhar Ali, who had dutifully hung around for 45 balls without ever finding a solution, then dragged on a Woakes offcutter.

All that was needed to complete England's day was some joy for Adil Rashid's legspin, a mood lifter in a match as good as won. Fate conspired against him. When his quicker ball beat Malik's pull and won an lbw verdict, Malik successfully reviewed. When Rashid reviewed for an lbw against Mohammad Rizwan, Rizwan was saved by a tiny margin. In the England viewing area, team management held hands to mouths and faces. But, in Rizwan, Rashid had finally found a Pakistan batsman struggling to read him and, looking to cut, he bottom-edged onto his stumps.

Alex Hales celebrates with Joe Root after his maiden ODI hundred © Getty Images

A spell of 1 for 32 will have brought some reassurance. Even on a reused pitch, this was not an easy gig for a legspinner. England would have looked at midway at a return of 0 for 70 for Yasir Shah's nine overs - the legspinner who destroyed them in the Test series - and wondered if an extra seamer might have been a useful option.

That Pakistan kept England just about within range - two higher totals had been chased down in Abu Dhabi - owed much to their skilful use of the old ball in the closing overs. Wahab Riaz had caused alarm when he jarred his right leg in the field, but he finished with 3 for 43, bowling both Joe Root and Jos Buttler in a closing spell where he cut his pace intelligently. Mohammad Irfan followed suit, having Eoin Morgan caught in the deep with another slower delivery, restricting England to only 39 from the last eight overs.

Hales and Jason Roy had much to ponder as England's opening pair after their failures in the opening ODI amplified the sense of a partnership that was becoming a trifle slow to deliver its potential. A half-century, too, for Roy in an opening stand of 102 in 17.3 overs, ending with a mistimed pull against Riaz, suggested that England's time reflecting on their six-wicket defeat had been well spent.

Another century partnership followed with Root, who gave orderly support, providing a shrewd assessment of his team's needs. Hales had 109 from 117 balls when he played over the top of a slog sweep, leaving Sarfraz to collect the ball by his ankles and pull off a neat stumping.

The wicket fell to Iftikhar, who was left on debut to fulfil the role of back-up bowler. Iftikhar fulfilled the role ably, his offspinners dying in the surface to give the first indication that runs were becoming more difficult.

Hales successfully reviewed umpire Shozab Raza's decision that he had been caught down the leg side on 48, and as he approached his modest previous best, his mind briefly went awry as he played and missed four times in succession. Oddly, it was the reappearance of Yasir which released him as he slog-swept him for six and chipped him, long limbed, for a less controlled six later in the same over.

Pressure came again from Iftikhar's unsung offies when, on 98, Hales survived three successive dot balls, his eyes blinking and facial expressions ticking like a fruit machine refusing to pay out, before he squeezed out a couple of lemons past short fine to reach a hundred that could be the making of him.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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