SHARJAH: Seamer Chris Woakes grabbed four wickets while James Tylor notched an unbeaten half century to anchor England’s six-wicket win over Pakistan in the third day-night international in Sharjah on Tuesday.
Woakes’s 4-40 skittled Pakistan out for a below-par 208 in 49.5 overs before Taylor scored 67 for his seventh fifty to help England to the target in 41 overs for a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Pakistan have one last chance to avoid their ninth series loss out of 11 in the United Arab Emirates (since 2009) when they play the final ODI in Dubai on Friday.
Pakistan won the first match by six wickets while England won the second by 95 runs — both in Abu Dhabi.
England were outstanding in all three departments as they bundled Pakistan out on a flat pitch for a low total and then rode an unbroken 117-run stand for the
fifth wicket between Taylor and Jos Buttler (49 not out).
Taylor smashed two boundaries off lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan and then clobbered a flat six to reach his fifty off 51 balls. In all he hit six boundaries and two sixes off 69 balls.
Buttler supplemented Taylor, hitting the winning six as the pair survived some anxious moments early on after Pakistan caught England at 93-4.
Irfan gave Pakistan an early breakthrough when he dismissed Jason Roy for seven while debutant left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar, included for the injured Yasir Shah, had Joe Root caught off a full toss for 11.
Alex Hales (30) and Eoin Morgan (35) added 60 for the third wicket before Gohar had the opener caught in the slips while Morgan was bowled by Shoaib Malik.
But Taylor and Buttler ensured no further loss and the victory, with Morgan full of praise for the pair after the successful chase.
“To perform like this is satisfying,” said Morgan. “The partnership between Taylor and Buttler was outstanding and it’s a magnificent win and we hope we go on and win the series.”
Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali blamed his team’s middle-innings collapse for the defeat.
“We had a good start but we lost our way in the middle,” said Ali. “We were looking for 270-280 but run outs cost us and we were left 50 short.”
It was a case of sloppy batting as Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, were derailed from 92-1 in the 20th over, losing their last nine wickets for just 116 runs.
Their cause was not helped by three unnecessary run outs of Azhar Ali (36), Mohammad Rizwan (one) and Malik (16) with Woakes the main wicket taker.
It was only through a ninth-wicket stand of 26 between Wahab Riaz (33 not out) and Gohar (15) that Pakistan got past the 200-mark.
Pakistan were off to a confident start when Ali and Babar Azam (22) put on 45 by the 11th over before Woakes broke the opening stand when he had Azam caught in the deep off a short delivery in his third over.
Ali and Moahmmad Hafeez, who top scored with 45, took the score to 92 when the Pakistani skipper failed to make his ground as the pair set off for a difficult single from point.
Pakistan lost the next five wickets for the addition of just 53 runs to slump to 145-6 in the 36th over as Hafeez and Sarfraz Ahmed (26) were caught in the deep in successive overs.
Hafeez hit two sixes and two boundaries off 71 balls.
Mohammad Rizwan was casually run out for one while Iftikhar Ahmed hooked a Woakes delivery straight into the hands of Root at deep square leg after scoring just three and Anwar Ali made seven.
Riaz smashed three sixes in his 35-ball knock as Woakes ended the innings off the penultimate delivery.