LAHORE: August 30, 2016 was a day when cricket commentators were forced to rethink the Pakistani bowling attack’s status as one of the most lethal in the cricketing world.
On a bright sunny Nottingham afternoon, the Azhar Ali-led tourists were tormented mercilessly by the English batters as they posted the highest score of 444 runs in the history of One-Day International (ODI) cricket.
Opting to bat first on a hard and dry batting surface in the third of the five-ODI series, it seemed as though Eoin Morgan had given his batsmen license to go ballistic to attain an unassailable lead of 3-0.
The local boy, Alex Hales, complied with a blistering 171 off 122 balls. His 166-minute long innings consisted 22 fours and four towering sixes.
Right-arm fast Hassan Ali dismissed the right-handed batsman in the 37th over, but even that did not make the hosts take their feet off the gas.
After a 248-run stand from 193 balls, for the second wicket between Hales and Joe Root, Morgan and Jos Buttler pummelled Pakistani bowlers for 161 runs off the last 74 balls at the rate of more than two runs per ball.
“It was a batting paradise out there as the wicket was easy to bat on and the boundaries were a bit smaller,” said Azhar, Pakistan ODI skipper, in an exclusive interview with Dawn.com on Saturday.
“We committed mistakes under pressure which allowed England to score so many runs.”
The thrashing could have been curbed had Pakistan shown discipline on the field.
There were dropped chances and Wahab Riaz, who leaked 110 runs at 11 runs per over, dismissed Hales and Buttler on no-balls that saw him end up with no wickets and eventually with the second-worst bowling figures.
“We took two wickets on the no-balls and there were dropped chances. Against such a strong batting line-up, you cannot afford such mistakes,” the 31-year-old admitted.
The opening batsman, who replaced Misbah-ul-Haq as the ODI captain after the ICC World Cup last year, did not hesitate to add that in the backdrop of such developments the “high score was on the cards”.
Left-handed batsman Sharjeel Khan gave a courageous reply to the daunting total, scoring 58 off 30 with 12 cracking fours and a six despite two wickets off Sami Aslam and his captain within the first ten overs.
Sharjeel’s contribution saw Pakistan post 83 in the first ten overs, but the middle-order failed to build on the start.
“If you see, we also started well,” Azhar pointed out, adding there is a great deal of pressure when you have to score at 8-9 runs an over right from the start.
Pakistan went on to lose the match by 169 runs.