Pakistan have defeated England by 14 runs to register their first win in the ongoing 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in England and Wales.
World Cup's first centuries from Joe Root and Jos Buttler were not enough to help the hosts and pre-tournament favourites overhaul the huge target of 349 set for them.
England had won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat, banking on the pace of fast bowlers Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer for early wickets and no doubt hoping to recreate the way the West Indies skittled Pakistan out for 105 on Friday. Instead, the visitors put that woeful performance behind them and racked up 348 runs for eight wickets, delighting their cheering fans in the stands with 29 fours and six sixes.
Mohammad Hafeez was his side's top scorer with 84 off 62 balls, while Babar Azam made 63 and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed belted a quickfire 55.
In reply, England steadily lost the wickets of their top-order batsmen Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes to leave the side on 118 for four and give Root and Buttler a mountain to climb. The two did their best, each eventually reaching three figures. Root hit 10 fours and one six on his way to 107 before scooping an easy catch off Khan to Hafeez at third man.
Buttler smashed a four to notch up his own hundred a few overs later, only to fall to the very next ball.
As the balls-remaining count dwindled, Moeen and Woakes swung valiantly at everything they could. But after they were both caught out in successive balls, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid were left stranded at the crease as the target slipped beyond their reach.
Speaking at the post-match closing ceremony, player of the match Mohammad Hafeez was glad with the way Pakistan team approached the game after a disappointing performance against West Indies.
“Everyone believed we can do this. We're really happy and everyone chipped in, taking the task and giving everything. To be honest, we were very confident and we had a good meeting together. We just needed one winning performance. It was a total team effort,” said Hafeez.
The all-rounder also spoke about the importance of pacing an innings.
“I was just trying to play my natural shots. Sometimes you have to take calculated risks and it worked for me today,” he said. “Whenever we come to UK, we get good support. It's like a home to us.”
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed spoke about the importance of getting off to a good start with the bat.
“I think it's a great team effort. Fakhar and Imam started well. The match starts at 10.30pm and the first ten overs were important. They got a good start and that's why we got 350,” said Sarfaraz.
The wicketkeeper-batsman also spoke about the confidence this win will give to the side.
“We tried a few different things. We started with Shadab because they weren't good against spinners,” he added. “Fielding is an important part and it was the main difference. This gives a lot of confidence to the team.”