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Joe Root takes on the Pakistan attack

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Innings break England 351 for 9 (Root 84, Morgan 76) v Pakistan

For the best part of 35 overs, England seemed destined for 400, and, depending on how obnoxiously brilliant Jos Buttler chose to be, potentially well in excess of that mark. There was little evidence during this period that Pakistan were overly exercised about restricting them below that figure; indeed, an atrocious first ten overs and an only slightly improved following 25 almost suggested apathy.

Then Imad Wasim, who had started off indifferently, struck twice in three balls to remove Butler and Moeen Ali, and with Joe Root and Eoin Morgan having departed not long before, England found themselves down to Ben Stokes and the lower order for the second time in as many games. With a buoyant Pakistan having suddenly rediscovered their groove, confidence and sense of urgency, England had to be content with barely scraping past 350.

England decided to bat first after winning the toss for a change, preferring to set the tempo in the final game. There wasn"t a century in the whole innings, something England may point to for their inability to post the type of score they had looked on course for throughout the innings. James Vince began with the picturesque elegance that has become as much a blessing as a curse for him, what with his now infamous struggles to kick on. He flattered to deceive once more, top-edging Shaheen Afridi once he reached 33, but with Pakistan never really hitting their straps in the first Powerplay, England were well on their way to a big score.

With fellow opener Jonny Bairstow also failing to covert a start, Root and Morgan accumulated the meat of the England total with a classy 117-run partnership across the next 18 overs. It combined modern belligerence with almost risk-free classical fluidity, not letting three or four quiet overs panic or rush them, capitalising on almost every loose delivery and many tight ones. After seven overs without a boundary following Bairstow"s departure, England found at least one in every one of the following eight. Morgan was the chief aggressor during this period, smashing Fakhar Zaman, Shoaib Malik and Imad all out of the attack as Sarfaraz Ahmed used seven bowlers across the fifty overs.

When Shaheen got the England captain to top-edge a short ball to the boundary - a tactic that proved more effective than Pakistan themselves seemed to realise for the most part - the stage appeared set for Buttler and the rest to cap off the series with an explosive final 20 overs that would not only decimate Pakistan, but strike fear into the hearts of each team at the World Cup. Instead, they found themselves losing wickets at regular intervals that stymied the flow of the innings, bringing the expected total sliding down from over 400 to 351.

At the time, it seemed churlish of Root to look so disconsolate when he found the deep fielder at 84, England"s Test captain smashing his bat and leaving in something of a huff. In hindsight, though, it was that moment things went downhill for the hosts. Buttler took his time settling in, and with Imad having found a tighter line and the ability to keep to it consistently, the runs began to dry up. It was perhaps what hurried Buttler as he attempted to put away a rare long-hop from the left arm spinner straight into backward point"s hands, while Moeen was trapped in front off his second delivery. For the first time, the insouciance with which England normally bat had to be reined in as surviving the fifty overs became a priority.

They might find they still have enough on the board, even if this was arguably the worst they had batted all series. With the openers failing to covert and the lower middle order having a rare off day, they may have Pakistan"s lackadaisical start to the innings, and Tom Curran"s late cameo, to thank if they come away from the series unbeaten.

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