Pakistan v England, 4th ODI, Dubai November 20, 2015

Buttler's record-breaking ton demolishes Pakistan

England 355 for 5 (Butter 116*, Roy 102, Root 71) beat Pakistan 271 (Malik 52, Azam 51, Moeen 3-53) by 84 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jos Buttler struck the quickest century in England's ODI history, from just 46 balls, to help his side to a 3-1 series victory against Pakistan in the UAE.

Buttler's innings included eight sixes - another record for an England player in ODI cricket - as England posted 355 for 5, their highest total away from home. Only four times have they scored more. It was to prove more than enough as Pakistan were dismissed for 271 with almost ten overs remaining.

Buttler, who had already recorded the two fastest ODI centuries for England (61 balls against New Zealand and 66 against Sri Lanka) finished unbeaten on 116 from 52 balls with 18 of them having been hit for four or six. There have been only six quicker ODI centuries and it helped England plunder 145 off the final 11 overs.

If Pakistan's bowling looked ragged in the face of Buttler's assault - and it did - they probably deserve some sympathy. Promoted to No. 4 after Jason Roy, who scored a maiden ODI century of his own, had established an imposing platform, Buttler was given every freedom to unleash his spectacular talents upon this game.

Having hit the bowlers of their length with a series of scoops, reverse-sweeps and bottom-handed drives which rendered even yorkers a feeding opportunity, Buttler then thrashed the follow-up collection of long-hops, full-tosses and slower balls. It was an innings of which AB de Villiers or Viv Richards would have been proud. And there really is no higher praise than that.

For a while, Pakistan kept up with the required run-rate. Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez struck the ball sweetly in hitting first Reece Topley and then Chris Woakes out of the attack. Then Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik took up the charge with swift half-centuries that left England just a little flustered.

But when Alex Hales, who had earlier missed a relatively straightforward catch offered by Hafeez, pulled off an outstanding catch at deep midwicket - Hales ran in from the fence and threw himself forward to scoop the ball up inches from the ground - to dismiss Malik, the Pakistan resistance crumbled. It was, though, a brave effort.

How they will rue the self-inflicted wounds that continue to hold them back. After three run-outs in Sharjah, they suffered another here when Hafeez, batting with real class at present, called Azam for a sharp single only to see his partner motionless and ball-watching at the other end. Hafeez had no chance of regaining his ground.

Defeat means Pakistan have lost three ODI series in a row against England and, placed eighth in the rankings, they face the real prospect of having to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

This was not a day when Pakistan lost because they played poorly, though, as much as it was a day when they came up against a player of special ability in golden form.

Jos Buttler hammered a century from just 46 balls © Getty Images

Having recovered some confidence after his unbeaten 49 in Sharjah - how important might that missed stumping before he had scored in that game prove to be? - Buttler gave himself a little time to get used to the conditions, scoring just 5 from his first nine balls before going on the attack.

Mohammad Irfan, a thorn in England's side throughout the series, was flicked from outside off to square leg and then scooped as if he were a medium-pacer. When Wahab went full he was laced through the covers and when he dropped short he was pulled through midwicket. One Anwar Ali over was thrashed for 22 as Buttler followed one perfectly timed reverse sweep for four with two thunderous pulls for six. It was murderous, merciless stuff. So un-English in many ways. The last 33 balls of his innings produced 99 runs.

Buttler's brilliance might have overshadowed the contribution of Roy, but it was England's strong start - they were 194 for 2 with almost 15 overs left when he wandered to the middle - that allowed him the freedom to attack.

Batting was, initially at least, far from straightforward for Roy. Twice in the opening overs - once against Anwar Ali and once against Wahab Riaz - he enjoyed some fortune when, pushing at the ball away from his body, inside edges flew perilously close to his stumps and down to the fine leg boundary for four.

But as he settled, he produced some sparkling strokes. A checked straight drive off Wahab was a thing of beauty, while a flick through midwicket off Irfan was gloriously timed. While he didn't completely time one straight drive off Malik, such was his commitment to the stroke that the ball still carried beyond the long-off boundary.

He gave one chance, on 77, when an outside edge off Yasir Shah was dropped at slip - Mohammad Rizwan had little chance after the ball deflected off the keeper's gloves - but this was an innings which allied power and placement; restraint and aggression. It was an admirably mature innings from a man who is looking more at home at this level by the game.

Roy gained support from Hales, with whom he posed 54 in 11 overs for the first wicket, and then 140 for the second with Joe Root, who placed the ball with precision and rotated the strike expertly. And, when the opportunity arose, he attacked with style: he brought up his 50 with a gorgeous lofted drive off Malik, having already slog-swept six off Yasir.

It was all just a prelude for Buttler, though. There may have been better innings played by an England player in ODI cricket, but it is not easy to think of them.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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