MATCH ANALYSIS: ENGLAND V PAKISTAN, 3RD ODI

Trent Bridge has been a high scoring venue in limited overs cricket of late—earlier this season the average score across six domestic innings was 380—but even given the ground’s recent history few people could have envisaged the carnage that unfolded in the first innings of this match.

England’s score of 444-3 broke a whole host of ODI records: the highest team score in an ODI, the highest ODI score score by an England player, the fastest ODI fifty for England, the joint-fastest ODI 400 and the joint-highest boundaries in an ODI innings to name but a few.

Pakistan’s ground-fielding and catching was admittedly very poor, and their bowling discipline, with both line and length and keeping their front foot behind the popping crease was not good either, but ultimately this match belonged to England’s batsmen: namely Alex Hales, Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan.

After a lean Test series and two low scores in the first two ODIs Hales came into this match with considerable pressure on him. Pakistan helped ease him into this innings with a fielding error in the second over of the match which brought him four runs. Hales has had some struggles with deliveries just outside off stump recently, however in this innings he played his first few balls in that region particularly late and his first two boundaries were put away through the cover point region from beneath his eyes. Thanks to those boundaries and a couple from Jason Roy England got away quickly in Powerplay 1 and Pakistan’s second slip was removed before the end of the second over. As the close catchers spread to the edge of the ring Hales grew in confidence and looked a different player to that which we have seen through Pakistan’s tour.

Hales’ innings was an ODI epic. He played well off the front and back foot, scored prolifically off all the bowlers and scored all round the ground playing a multitude of shots. Hales played 47% of his shots off the front foot from where he scored 62% of his runs at a strike rate of 132 and played 35% of his shots off the back foot from where he scored 45% of his runs at a strike rate of 130. It was when coming down the pitch and backing away that he scored fastest, scoring at strike rates of 183 and 233 respectively. Hales scored runs in every sector of the wagon wheel, scoring 101 on the leg side, 70 on the off side, 115 in front of square and 56 behind square. He scored most runs, 40, through the mid-on sector and his most productive shot was the drive.

It says a lot about the innings played by Hales, Buttler and Morgan that Root’s strike rate of 98.83 appears as pedestrian as it does. While Hales took Pakistan’s bowling apart from one end Root calmly and intelligently played a busy, proactive and critical innings of 85 off 86 balls to ensure that after the wicket of Roy England’s positivity continued. In an innings 30% shorter than Hales’, Root played just one fewer shot-type. He, like Hales, scored in every sector of the wagon wheel and relatively equally off the front and back foot. His most prolific shot was the drive but his strike rate was higher from the reverse sweep, pull and cut.

Hales and Root were dismissed within six balls of each other bringing together Buttler and Morgan who played more unconventional innings than the pairing who preceded them.

The unorthodoxy of Buttler’s innings is best illustrated by a footwork analysis which reveals his most regular foot movement was to back away, which he did 43% of the time. This is unusual: normally a player’s most regular footwork is either back or forward. Buttler is not a conventional player however. Backing away gives Buttler room to free his arms and gets his very fast hands and supple wrists through the ball and it is from here that he generates most of his power. These fast hands ensure he is particularly successful when coming down the pitch too – if he gets too close to the ball or is too far from the ball when it pitches he can rely on his hands to get him out of trouble. In this innings on the four occasions he came down the pitch he hit a six every time. Buttler favoured the leg side, scoring 64% of his runs there.

Morgan’s innings was similar in nature to Buttler’s but he scored at a greater rate. He played the highest percentage of shots off the front foot but also played off the back foot and backed away regularly. Morgan scored 30 of his 58 runs in sixes, all of them hit in the two sectors of the wagon wheel between square leg and straight down the ground. Like Buttler, Morgan has very fast hands, and they were twice displayed as he lacerated two balls, one that really wasn’t that wide, through the off side for four. Other than those two boundaries Morgan only played four other scoring shots on that side of the pitch, scoring 75% of his runs on the leg side – the highest proportion of England’s players.

Together Hales’ epic, Root’s clever cameo and the whipcord power of Buttler and Morgan produced a near-perfect ODI innings by England who have won the five match series with two matches still to play.

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