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Jonny Bairstow smashes century and Jason Roy smacks 76 as England beat sloppy Pakistan by six wickets to take unassailable 2-0 lead in ODI series

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 14/05/2019 Lawrence Booth for the Daily Mail

Cricket - Third One Day International - England v Pakistan - The Bristol County Ground, Bristol, Britain - May 14, 2019   England's Jonny Bairstow celebrates his 50   Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers © Thomson Reuters Cricket - Third One Day International - England v Pakistan - The Bristol County Ground, Bristol, Britain - May 14, 2019 England's Jonny Bairstow celebrates his 50 Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers It said everything about England’s pre-World Cup state of mind that a potential ascent of Everest ended up resembling a stroll in the park.

Only once before, at Bridgetown in February, had they chased down more than the 359 they required here – and they didn’t even need Jos Buttler, enjoying a game off after his 50-ball century in Southampton. Wherever you look, one of England’s batsmen is making the extraordinary look routine.

This time, the standing ovation went to Jonny Bairstow, who thrashed 128 from 93 balls and looked furious after playing on against Pakistan left-arm quick Junaid Khan. A huge score, he knew, was his for the taking. It is the kind of hunger that can win trophies.

a man holding a ball: England opener Jonny Bairstow celebrates after reaching his century against Pakistan © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited England opener Jonny Bairstow celebrates after reaching his century against Pakistan

As at the Ageas Bowl, it meant Jason Roy – who hit 76 from 55 balls in a match-winning opening partnership of 159 in 17.3 overs – had to settle for second fiddle. No matter: if he can keep playing it all the way to the World Cup final on July 14, he will not care a jot.

a baseball player pitching a ball on a field: Jonny Bairstow smashed 128 off just 93 balls before he played onto his stumps © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Jonny Bairstow smashed 128 off just 93 balls before he played onto his stumps England’s batsmen, it’s true, may never again find conditions as conducive as they did at Gloucestershire’s snug Nevil Road. The sun shone, the pitch dozed and the crowd felt close enough to touch. Pakistan’s fielding was lame, not least when Shaheen Shah Afridi contrived to drop Roy on 21 at mid-off. Later, Moeen Ali was badly missed on one and 17.

But some of England’s 16 sixes disappeared out of the ground, and there was a comforting sense of anti-climax about the closing stages as Ali and Eoin Morgan cantered to a six-wicket victory with 31 deliveries to spare. They cold probably have knocked off 400. Only the bowlers’ slow over-rate, leaving Morgan in danger of a one-match suspension, removed any gloss.

Victory on Friday at Trent Bridge, where England hit the Pakistanis for a then world record 444 for three in 2016, will give them a 3-0 lead with one to play. But, at this stage, the details matter as much as the bigger picture.

In that respect, Bairstow’s first ODI hundred – from only 74 deliveries – since June 2018 was a happy continuation of the form he showed at the IPL. His leg-side hitting was brutal, his mood insatiable. Good luck to opposition bowlers in the weeks ahead.

a cricket player during a game: England opener Jason Roy smashed 8 fours and 4 sixes in a swashbuckling 76 on Tuesday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited England opener Jason Roy smashed 8 fours and 4 sixes in a swashbuckling 76 on Tuesday

England, though, would like to have learned more about Joe Denly, who replaced Buttler. But he was given only over of leg-spin, which included a loopy full-toss, and didn’t get a bat as the order was rejigged to allow Stokes, who made 37 before being involuntarily run out via the bowler Afridi’s boot, and Ali a go higher up.

There is still a scenario in which Denly, rather than one of the seamers, makes way for Jofra Archer when the final 15 is confirmed on Tuesday.

Pakistan’s total of 358 for nine after being invited to bat had centred on a brilliant 151 from 131 balls by Imam-ul-Haq – his country’s highest score against England, only three days after Fakhar Zaman had broken the record himself with 138 at Southampton.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Fans in nearby flats had to duck for cover as Roy smashed a massive six out of the ground © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Fans in nearby flats had to duck for cover as Roy smashed a massive six out of the ground

Imam’s uncle is former Pakistan captain and current chairman of selectors Inzamam-ul-Haq, leading to suggestions earlier in his career that he owed his place to a spot of old-fashioned nepotism. But this was his sixth ODI hundred in just 27 innings; talk of favouritism feels increasingly misplaced.

As ever, bowling in Bristol was an exercise in damage limitation, and – in the continued absence of Archer, who may return at Trent Bridge – some fared better than others.

After shaking off rust at the Ageas Bowl, Chris Woakes confirmed why he will take the new ball at the World Cup, removing Fakhar and Babar Azam in his first spell, then returning to claim the dangerous Asif Ali and Imad Wasim.

a football player in a green field: Shaheen dropped a simple catch to dismiss Jason Roy when the England batsman was on 21 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Shaheen dropped a simple catch to dismiss Jason Roy when the England batsman was on 21

Liam Plunkett did well to concede only 55 from nine overs, while Tom Curran – in his first game of the series – picked up two late wickets with well-directed yorkers, having earlier shown off his all-round sporting prowess to run out Haris Sohail, side-footing the ball on to the stumps to thwart a tight single.

But Curran went for 74 from his 10, and David Willey, after a clever performance at the death in Southampton, leaked 86, the second-most expensive analysis of his England career. His boundary fielding, on the other hand, was superb – and an athletic return catch to dismiss Afridi world-clas.

Even so, with Mark Wood set to play in the last two matches, the race to avoid being dropped from the World Cup 15 remains agonisingly close.

a group of baseball players playing a football game: Paceman Chris Woakes was the pick of the England bowlers with 4-67 from his 10 overs © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Paceman Chris Woakes was the pick of the England bowlers with 4-67 from his 10 overs

One player who has mislaid his effectiveness with the ball, however, is Stokes, who sent down four wayward overs for 34. He has now claimed only six wickets in his last 18 ODIs at an average of 85 – the figures of a part-timer.

a person on a football field: Imam-ul-Haq hit a career-best 151 as Pakistan posted a daunting 358-9 at Bristol © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Imam-ul-Haq hit a career-best 151 as Pakistan posted a daunting 358-9 at Bristol Such is his match-winning potential with the bat and all-energy persona in the field that there is no question of his place being under threat. But the balance of the attack suffers when Stokes is off the boil, and the fact remains that England have given away 719 runs in 100 overs in two games.

a football player on a field: England bowler Tom Curran side-footed the ball into the stumps to run out Haris Sohail © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited England bowler Tom Curran side-footed the ball into the stumps to run out Haris Sohail Sooner or later, their batsmen may not be able to bail them out. Mind you, at this rate it will probably be later rather than sooner. 

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