Another day, another win. It wasn’t quite a walk in the park but it was comfortable enough in the end. The good ship England just keeps on sailing. Pakistan, meanwhile, look totally sunk.
What was so impressive about this latest win was the somewhat unlikely match-winners. This time our star batsmen were guys who weren’t even required on Tuesday – Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. The latter can’t even get in the first XI when everyone’s fit. I don’t think we’ve ever, ever, had such strength in depth in 50 over cricket.
Although Pakistan left out both Amir and Wahab, they actually managed to put us under some pressure for the first time in a long time. Mohammad Irfan, who looks even taller every time I see him, bowled with good pace and hostility. He was too much for our openers to handle and might have claimed Morgan’s scalp too.
When England were reduced to 72-4, Azhar Ali might have expected to claim a consolation victory, but Stokes and Bairstow simply played too well. Their century partnership was absolutely crucial and set up the win. A typical Mo cameo finished off the job.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan might have hoped for a big total when they saw the two Ws, Wood and Woakes, missing from the England team sheet. Fat chance. Willey and Jordan took the new ball and both bowled very economically. Stokes also looked pretty good on his return from injury. England will have one hell of a dilemma when Steve Finn returns to fitness. Who on earth will the management leave out?
It was also good to see England’s spinners perform well. Rashid and Moeen bowled really well, especially the former. With a winter in India and Bangladesh approaching, we’ll need more good performances from our spin twins – although their brief will probably be a lot tougher in the test series.
It’s hard to see how Pakistan can avoid a whitewash from here. England have the winning habit now and look full of confidence whoever they pick. I really wouldn’t know what to do or say if I was Azhar Ali or Mickey Arthur. The tourists simply look outgunned and overmatched.
It’s sad to see Pakistan at such a low ebb in ODI cricket. They remind me of England a few years ago: excellent at test cricket but a long way behind in the 50 over game. Let’s hope they can get things together as it will be somewhat humiliating if they have to qualify for the next world cup.