BRISTOL: Imam-ul-Haq came into form ahead of the World Cup with a career-best 151 as Pakistan made 358 for nine against tournament hosts England in the third One-day International here at the Bristol County Ground on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old left-hander’s innings was also the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman against England at this level, surpassing the 138 made by his opening partner, Fakhar Zaman, in a 12-run defeat at Southampton on Saturday that left the home side 1-0 up in this five-match series.
Meanwhile, Chris Woakes did his chances of being included in tournament hosts England’s final 15-man squad for the World Cup no harm with a return of four wickets for 67 runs in a maximum 10 overs.
But team-mate Joe Denly’s World Cup chances suffered a setback, with the leg-spinner -- playing in place of the rested Adil Rashid -- bowling a couple of full tosses in a solitary over costing nine runs before he was taken out of the attack by England captain Eoin Morgan.
Warwickshire pace-bowling all-rounder Woakes made an early double strike to reduce Pakistan to 27 for two after Morgan won the toss and decided to let England chase — they generally prefer to bat first — ahead of the World Cup.
Woakes’s last ball of the first over, an excellent full-length delivery, had Fakhar edging to second slip where Test skipper Joe Root held a juggled catch.
Number three Babar Azam was then clean bowled by a Woakes off-cutter.
But new batsman Haris Sohail was quickly into his stride in ideal batting conditions on a sunny day.
The left-hander hit two superbly timed fours off successive Woakes deliveries through point and then drove David Willey through the covers for a boundary.
But Haris’s excellent run-a-ball 41 came to an unfortunate end when, called through for a single by Imam, he was run out by bowler Tom Curran kicking the ball onto the striker’s-end stumps.
Pakistan were then 95 for three in the 17th over.
But Imam and Asif Ali, whose 52 was his second successive fifty, repaired the damage with a fifth-wicket partnership of 125.
Imam, the nephew of Pakistan great and selection chief Inzamam-ul-Haq, went to his sixth hundred in 27 ODIs — and first against England — off 97 balls. He continued to take the attack to England, driving Willey for a straight six and next ball glancing the left-arm quick for four.
Imam then surpassed his previous ODI best of 128 against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo last year.
Asif holed out off Woakes and Imam’s excellent innings ended when he was bowled, giving himself room, by Curran.
Imam faced 131 balls including 16 fours and a six.
Tailenders Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi hit out to leave England, who had also rested Jos Buttler following the star batsman’s blistering 110 not out at Southampton, with a decent chase for victory.
Imam-ul-Haq b Curran 151
Fakhar Zaman c Root b Woakes 2
Babar Azam b Woakes 15
Haris Sohail run out 41
Sarfraz Ahmed c sub b Plunkett 27
Asif Ali c Roy b Woakes 52
Imad Wasim c and b Woakes 22
Faheem Ashraf lbw b Curran 13
Hasan Ali not out 18
Shaheen Shah Afridi c and b Willey 7
Junaid Khan not out 0
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-9) 10
TOTAL (for nine wkts, 50 overs) 358
FALL OF WKTS: 1-7, 2-27, 3-95, 4-162, 5-287, 6-310, 7-322, 8-335, 9-348
BOWLING: Woakes 10-0-67-4; Willey 10-0-86-1 (4w); Ali 6-0-32-0; Plunkett 9-0-55-1 (3w); Curran 10-0-74-2 (1w); Stokes 4-0-34-0 (1w); Denly 1-0-9-0
ENGLAND: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper), Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan (captain), Joe Denly, Chris Woakes, David Willey, Tom Curran, Liam Plunkett
UMPIRES: Paul Reiffel (Australia), Michael Gough (England)
TV UMPIRE: Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand)
MATCH REFEREE: Richie Richardson (West Indies)
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2019