England’s improvised one-day international team put the COVID-19 issues that hit the previous team behind them to eliminate Pakistan for 141 races before heading to a clinical nine-wicket victory in the first series match in Cardiff on Thursday.
Substitute skipper Ben Stokes has led an entirely new England XI, including five debutants, after a COVID-19 outbreak in the squad in the recent series victory over Sri Lanka forced the 16 players initially selected to self-isolate.
But the reshaped host was in the spotlight from the start, with paceman Saqib Mahmood marking his comeback with four wickets for 42 to help take out Pakistan with just under 15 overs to spare.
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Chasing 142 for a 1-0 lead in the three-game series, England lost Phil Salt in the fifth round before compatriot Dawid Malan and Zak Crawley stabilized the ship.
Malan (68 not eliminated) scored her second fifty in her fourth ODI appearance and Crawley (58 not eliminated) also scored half a century on her ODI debut as England returned home in 21.5 overs.
England got off to a dynamic start with the ball in hand on a sunny afternoon as Mahmood trapped Pakistani opener Imam-ul-Haq ahead of the game’s first delivery.
Two balls later, Mahmood recovered his second wicket when Pakistani skipper Babar Azam – ODI’s top batsman – went for a duck after closing in on Crawley on the second slip.
Mohammad Rizwan was then sacked for 13 years before Mahmood trapped Saud Shakeel in front of the stumps to let Pakistan falter at 26-4.
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Opener Fakhar Zaman, who was returning to the ground where he made a fifty in Pakistan’s 2017 Champions Trophy semi-final victory over England, offered Sohaib Maqsood a strong resistance adding 53 points for the fifth window.
The partnership, however, ended in a ridiculous run when Fakhar called up Maqsood for a single and then left it stranded as James Vince grazed the bonds.
Pakistan’s hopes of posting a competitive tally came to an end when Zaman (47) missed a straight to score leg spinner Matt Parkinson.
Teams are now heading to Lord’s for the second ODI on Saturday.