England produced another polished display to beat Pakistan at Lord’s and take a 2-0 lead in the one-day series.
Having won easily at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday, England reduced the tourists to 2-3 courtesy of impressive new-ball spells from Mark Wood and Chris Woakes.
Sarfraz Ahmed scored a superb 105 and Imad Wasim struck 63 not out to salvage a competitive total of 251.
But Joe Root’s 89 and 68 from captain Eoin Morgan helped England to a four-wicket win with 15 balls to spare.
England’s victory is their first in an ODI at Lord’s since 2012, having lost their previous three at the ground.
They have now won 10 of the past 11 ODIs against Pakistan, and take a 12-8 advantage in the ‘super series’ to Trent Bridge for the third game of the five-match series.
England’s devastating start
Despite the green wicket at Lord’s, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali opted to bat first after winning the toss.
It would quickly prove to be a terrible decision as Woakes and Wood tore into the tourists’ top order.
- 2-1 (1.4 overs): Sami Aslam is given out following an England review after gloving a short ball from Woakes to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler on the pull.
- 2-2 (2.2 overs): Sharjeel Khan is bowled by a brilliant ball from Wood that nips across the left-hander and takes out off stump.
- 2-3 (3.1 overs): Skipper Azhar plays a tentative shot to a Woakes ball that is just short of a length and edges to Buttler.
Sarfraz makes a game of it
Sarfraz joined the game with his side in dire straits but produced a classy innings to become the first Pakistan player to score a one-day century at Lord’s.
With a strike-rate of 80.76 his was a constrained innings by modern one-day standards but a crucial contribution for his side to avoid embarrassment.
The wicketkeeper-batsman was the constant in three 50-plus partnerships with Babar Azam (30), Shoaib Malik (28) and Imad to take his side past 200.
Shortly after reaching his century he survived being given out lbw when a review showed Plunkett’s off-cutter was missing leg stump.
But soon after, in trying to accelerate the scoring towards the end of the innings, he swept an Adil Rashid ball straight to Alex Hales at deep mid-wicket.
This left Imad, who hit cleanly to pass 50 but regularly lost partners, including Wahab Riaz to a superb one-handed diving catch from Plunkett.
Imad was last man standing when Wood and Woakes returned to add a third wicket each to their haul and help dismiss Pakistan with a ball to spare.
The innings did little to dismiss criticism that Pakistan have failed to adapt to what is now a big-hitting, fast-scoring limited overs game.
Indeed, their total was just six more than West Indies managed in their Twenty20 against India in Florida on Saturday.
Root stars as England cruise
England briefly threatened to replicate Pakistan’s start when Jason Roy played on to Mohammad Amir off the second ball of the chase.
Alex Hales’ poor recent form continued as he was bowled attempting a slog-sweep off spinner Imad to leave the home side vulnerable at 35-2.
But in Root and Morgan, England have two players whose temperament is matched by their ability and inventiveness to find run-scoring gaps in the field.
They took the game away from Pakistan, adding 112 together, during which Root became the 11th England player to score four consecutive ODI fifties and Morgan reached his first half-century in 13 innings.
After Morgan was bowled by Imad, Ben Stokes scored a typically rapid 42 from 30 balls to strengthen England’s position so that even his dismissal and the subsequent loss of Buttler and Root could not prevent an England victory.
‘Clinical’ England impress Morgan
England captain Eoin Morgan: “It was a clinical performance from the boys. It probably only did a bit for the first few overs but we made it count with early wickets. Mark Wood is bowling really well at the moment.
“It is great to get some runs and contribute to a win. It is important that we don’t take the position we find ourselves for granted. We have important games on Tuesday and Thursday and we need to build on the progress we’ve made.”
Man of the match Joe Root: “Credit to the bowlers today – they were outstanding, especially first up. To set the tone like that was brilliant.
“You are always striving for perfection. Both times this series we have chased and known what we need to do and we have gone out and done it. Good teams find ways of winning.”
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali: “We bat deep and have good bowling options. The guys coming in are suited to the new style of one-day game. We can take a lot of positives from this game.”