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Root leads England to another cruise despite Sarfraz century

England 255 for 6 (Root 89, Morgan 68) beat Pakistan 251 (Sarfraz 105, Imad 63, Woakes 3-42, Wood 3-46) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Joe Root's fourth successive half-century in ODI cricket eased England to a deceptively comfortable four-wicket win over Pakistan at Lord's.

While Root fell just before the victory line - and just before he could record equal Kevin Pietersen's record of nine ODI centuries (only Marcus Trescothick, with 12, has more for England) - he had done enough to assure England of victory with 15 balls to spare. They take a 2-0 lead in the five-match Royal London series and a 12-8 lead in the Super Series.

While this game was not a rout in the sense of Wellington 2015 (where New Zealand thrashed England by eight wickets with an eye-watering 226 balls remaining), or Edgbaston 2016 (when England defeated Sri Lanka by 10-wickets) it never really threatened to be the contest on a glorious summer's day and full house crowd deserved.

A Pakistan team branded "behind the times" by their coach, Mickey Arthur, the day before the game was reduced to 2 for 3 within the first 19 deliveries and, despite a tremendous century from Sarfraz Ahmed, never fully recovered. Their final total of 251 was well below par on a very good surface for batting.

While England lost two early wickets - Jason Roy, who played on having driven without sufficient foot movement, and Alex Hales, who snatched at a sweep shot - Root and Eoin Morgan added 112 in 21.3 overs to break the back of the challenge. Root, without ever having to move into top gear, than marshalled the chase with impressive maturity.

So comfortable was England's chase that, once Root had reached 14, he did not strike another boundary until he had made 75. There were, in all, 53 singles in his innings. While it was impressively controlled, you sensed spectators may have yearned for more drama.

The tone for the day had been set in the early moments. After Pakistan were quickly made to regret their decision to bat first on a green surface - a decision that pleased Eoin Morgan, the England captain, who admitted he would have chosen to bowl first anyway - Sarfraz was obliged to adopt a measured approach to his rebuilding operation.

Pakistan's first three batsmen could only manage one run between them. If Sami Aslam could count himself slightly unfortunate to be given out caught behind down the leg side - the on-field umpire, Marais Erasmus, originally gave him not out, but the TV umpire, Simon Fry overruled on the basis of a spike in the snickometer even though there was no Hot Spot - the other two batsmen were the recipients of fine deliveries.

Mark Wood produced a beauty, pitching on leg stump and swinging late, to take the off stump of Sharjeel Khan, before Chris Woakes bowled one that nipped away down the slope and bounced to take the edge of Azhar Ali's bat.

But Sarfraz, with his second ODI century, posted half-century partnerships for the fourth, fifth and sixth wickets. Having also made a half-century in the first ODI in Southampton, he recorded his highest ODI score here, overtaking his unbeaten 101 against Ireland at Adelaide during the 2015 World Cup, as well as recording the highest score made by a Pakistan wicketkeeper in an ODI in England. It was also the first century by a Pakistan batsman in an ODI at Lord's. The previous highest was 88, made by Mohammad Yousuf against Australia in 2004. There were 61 singles in his innings.

While Sarfraz took a couple of early boundaries off Wood - once driving an over-pitched ball and once pulling a short one - he was generally obliged to adopt a low-risk approach. Pakistan could not pick up a boundary for almost 11 overs once the field went back at the start of the second Powerplay, losing Babar Azam, bowled off the boot as he tried to squeeze a full ball through midwicket, in the process.

While Shoaib Malik skipped down the pitch and drove Moeen Ali's second delivery for six, the reintroduction of Wood brought the breakthrough. Gaining steep lift and movement from a back of a length delivery, Wood took the edge of Shoaib's bat to leave Pakistan in trouble once more at 125 for 5 in the 27th over.

But Imad Wasim gave Sarfraz steadfast support and, in making his highest ODI score to date, helped add 77 in 16.3 overs for the sixth wicket. While Imad started slowly - his first 17 deliveries brought only three runs - he accelerated nicely once he had settled and took 14 off three deliveries from Liam Plunkett - a slashed six over point followed by two driven fours - at one stage.

Sarfraz was reprieved by the TV umpire on 102 after Marais Erasmus had adjudged him leg before to a Plunkett slower ball. But he was unable to take advantage and succumbed to a catch on the mid-wicket boundary as he attempted a slog-sweep in the following over.

While Hasan Ali was caught in the deep -Root looked in some pain after colliding with Adil Rashid in taking the catch, but was able to continue after treatment on his shins - and Wahab Riaz was brilliantly caught by Plunkett, flinging himself to his left at cover, Imad helped Pakistan take their total above 250.

Perhaps the most fluent batting of the day game from Morgan. With an array of sweeps, flicks, cuts and pulls, Morgan recorded his first half-century in 13 ODI innings and his highest since November. Though he perished attempting to make room for a cut, Ben Stokes missed a horrid smear, Jos Buttler was run out by a direct hit when called for an optimistic single and Root holed out to mid-off, the sense was that England were cruising long before they reached the finish line.

For Pakistan, the prospect of automatic qualification for the next World Cup is receding by the match.