<>Under pressure England opening batsman, Alex Hales, hit his first on-day hundred as the visitors levelled the series 1-1, at Abu Dhabi on Friday. Thanks to Hales' hundred, and half-centuries from Jason Ray and Joe Root, England finished with a challenging 283 for 5 although they would have wanted more to feel safe. Pakistan would have fancied their chances of chasing down the target. But, their batting floundered, and 188 was all they managed in the end. Sarfraz Ahmed hit an impressive 64, but all that managed was to reduce the margin of defeat, which still was 95 runs.
England's batting it was that undoubtedly won them the match. In the Tests, their batting had failed rather miserably, and they did not do too well in the first one-dayer as well. But, on Friday, they definitely got their act together, for a majority of the innings. Both the English openers were under pressure to deliver, and thankfully for the Englishmen, they did. Batting first, not only did Hales and Ray feature in a hundred run stand, but they did so at a quick pace, putting the team into a position from where they could push for a 300 plus score. It was only some very good bowling from Pakistan that prevented England from reaching the landmark.
Hales and Ray eased their way to 102 before the first wicket fell in the 18th over. Wahab Riaz, it was who broke the dangerous opening stand, getting Ray caught by Shoaib Malik for 54. If Pakistan hoped to get some breather, they were wrong. Hales then joined hands with Joe Root to feature in England's second consecutive century stand. For a change, even Yasir Shah could not make an impression for Pakistan, as he went for 70 in his 9 overs. Riaz eventually bowled Root for 63. Before that, Hales completed his ton, before eventually being stumped off Iftikar Ahmed's bowling.
Following the loss of Hales and Ray, England could not maintain the momentum, and finished well short of the 300 mark. Riaz starred for Pakistan with 3 for 43. While Pakistan finished on a high with the ball, they could not carry on the momentum into the batting. David Willey got Babar Azam, who was sent into open lbw, and then had Mohammad Hafeez caught behind for a duck. Chris Woakes then dismissed Shoaib Malik and Ahmed in quick succession to put England in control. Skipper Azhar Ali struggled his way to 22 at the other end, but he played on to become Woakes' third victim. Under the circumstances, Sarfraz showed good composure to hit a half-century, but it wasn't enough. Adil Rashid was the most economical of England bowlers with 1 for 32 as Eoin Morgan's men stayed alive in the series.
-- By A Cricket Correspondent