England Vs Pakistan - 5th ODI: Sarfraz stars as Pakistan avoid whitewash
Sarfraz Ahmed became the leading run-scorer in the series as he steered Pakistan home. Photo: espn cricinfo

England Vs Pakistan - 5th ODI: Sarfraz stars as Pakistan avoid whitewash

Sarfraz fell agonisingly short of a century as he led Pakistan to their first ODI win of the series.

Tom Simmonds

England couldn't complete the 5-0 series whitewash as they lost to Pakistan in Cardiff, Azhar Ali's men winning by four wickets.

Having won the toss Pakistan chose to bowl. England started well but losing regular wickets left Eoin Morgan's men struggling at 92-3. Strong innings from Jason Roy and Ben Stokes, 87 and 75 respectively, propelled England to 302 from their 50 overs.

Pakistan's chase started terribly as they lost three quick wickets leaving them on 77-3, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes leading the England charge. A huge partnership from Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik turned the game on its head however and gave Pakistan the victory.

Roy and Stokes anchor England

With the skies above the Sofia Gardens being grey and full of cloud, the Pakistan captain, Azhar Ali, chose to take advantage of the gloomy scene and bowl. England's openers went well, but Alex Hales departed for 23 as he clothed a drive to Malik. Joe Root then came and went, he fell in single figures dragging on for just nine runs.

The captain then came to the crease and although Roy at this point had passed fifty, Morgan couldn't stay with him, he tamely lobbed a full toss directly back to the bowler, Imad Wasim. Roy kept going however as he built a solid partnership with Stokes. The Surrey batsman finally departed for a crucial 87 runs, Mohammad Amir claiming the opener's wicket. Inform wicket-keeper batsman Jonny Bairstow had an important cameo adding 33 runs.

England's tail played a small part as Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan and Woakes all made it into double figures. It was just David Willey and Wood who scored in single figures, the latter finishing not out.

Amir, Ali and Wasim combine to restrict England

There was a time in this match, particularly when Roy was going well that 350+ looked on for England. Regular wickets and good pressure kept the England guns in check.

Hasan Ali was the star with the ball as he took 4-60 from his ten overs. The Pakistani paceman's skiddy action kept England's batsmen pinned to the crease, the quick bowler claimed the wickets of Root, Stokes, Woakes and Willey. Whilst the variations of Ali kept England guessing, Amir's reliance on hitting a good line and length proved a thorn in Englands side. The controversial bowler took three wickets in his 10 overs only conceding 50 runs.

Imad Wasim could only take one wicket in his ten overs, but it was the lack of runs conceded where he starred. The spinner's ability to turn the ball both ways kept the England batsmen guessing and built up the pressure to the point where the England order started to crack.

Sarfraz and Malik star

It looked to be more of the same from England as they made early inroads, Woakes removed Sharjeel Khan and then Babar Azam and Azhar Ali fell in the same Wood over, leaving Pakistan floundering. 

Dawson held his nerve well to take two wickets on debut | Photo: Sky Sports
Dawson held his nerve well to take two wickets on debut | Photo: Sky Sports

With Malik and Sarfraz at the crease, however, Pakistan never looked like losing. Sarfraz stole the show as he smashed England's bowlers to all parts on his way to 90 from just 73 deliveries. Malik was happy to merely occupy an end as let Sarfraz steal the show. Malik went quietly about his business, nudging England around for singles as he steadily accumulated 77 from 80 deliveries.

There was a small wobble in Pakistan's chase as Dawson removed the two set batsmen on his debut. Mohammad Nawaz was then run out by Bairstow to give England a glimmer of hope. Mohammad Rizwan and Imad Wasim guided Pakistan home sensibly as they secured a four-wicket win.

It was a disappointing end to what was a fantastic series for England where they had looked on a completely different level to their visiting opponents. It will be a huge source of confidence for a young Pakistan side desperate for some proof that they could still compete in one day cricket.