James Vince hits maiden England hundred to lead them to ODI series sweep over Pakistan
England beat Pakistan by three wickets to clinch a 3-0 ODI series whitewash after chasing a record 332 on #BlueForBob Day at Edgbaston; James Vince (102 from 95 balls) led the way with a maiden international ton; Babar Azam's stunning 158 in vain for Pakistan
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 21/07/21 3:04pm
James Vince scored a maiden international hundred to take England to a thrilling three-wicket win over Pakistan as they completed a 3-0 series sweep.
After Babar Azam made a masterful 158 to help the tourists reach 331-9, Phil Salt (37 from 22 balls) set the tone for the chase with a typically forceful knock but with the hosts precariously placed at 165-5, it was the class and composure of Vince (102 from 95) alongside Lewis Gregory (77 from 69) that allowed England to get over the line.
The pair put on 129 for the sixth wicket before they succumbed in successive Haris Rauf (4-65) overs, leaving Craig Overton (18no) and Brydon Carse, who claimed a first international five-for in the Pakistan innings, to complete the highest successful chase in a one-day international at Edgbaston with 12 balls to spare.
Carse (12no) finished it in style with a glorious cover drive for four to ensure the majority of a bumper ground on #BlueForBob Day could go home happy.
Ben Stokes won the toss and chose to bowl first but before play began, there was 45 seconds of applause to remember the late, great England bowler and former Sky Sports pundit Bob Willis and to signify that every 45 minutes in the UK a man dies of prostate cancer.
When play did get underway, the powerplay looked set to follow a similar pattern to the first two ODIs as player of the series Saqib Mahmood (3-60) struck early, claiming the first of his three wickets on the day when Fakhar Zaman was well caught by Zak Crawley at second slip.
However, Imam-ul-Haq (56), having survived when England opted not to review an lbw decision off Mahmood that would have seen him depart in the first over, and Babar took a patient approach to calmly take the visitors through the remainder of the powerplay and beyond without incurring any further damage.
The stand had reached 92 before it was broken by a moment of magic from Matt Parkinson. The legspinner tossed the ball up outside Imam's off stump, dragging him forward; the ball dipped late and then turned sharply to fizz back through the gate and clatter into middle stump.
BOWLED'IM! 💥— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 13, 2021
Perfect from Parkinson! The Lancashire leggy bowls Imam (56) through the gate with a beauty!
Pakistan 113-2 after 26 overs. #ENGvPAK 🏴🇵🇰#BlueForBob | @bobwillisfund 💙
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That brought Mohammad Rizwan to the crease and while Babar had taken 15 balls to get off the mark and steadily moved through the gears, Rizwan was full of positive intent from the off.
By now, Babar was well set and was timing his innings to perfection, turning a 72-ball fifty into a 104-ball century, his 18th in ODIs, with an array of stunning shots either side of the wicket.
The partnership had reached 179, a record for Pakistan in an ODI against England, by the time Rizwan (74 from 58) tickled a short ball from Carse behind down the legside in the 46th over to give the home side's bowlers some respite from one end at least.
Pakistan had passed 300 and were only three down heading into a jam-packed final three overs in which they lost six wickets for 24 runs, Carse (5-61) claimed four of them, including that of Babar in the last over, to become the first England bowler to take a five-wicket haul in an ODI at Edgbaston, while Mahmood took the other two to end with nine for the series.
At the halfway stage, chasing a record 332 with a hugely understrength side seemed a tall order, even on an excellent batting wicket but when Salt came out firing, hitting Shaheen Afridi for four boundaries in the first over, it was clear that England were far from daunted by the challenge.
Dawid Malan (0) departed in bizarre circumstances in the next over, given out caught behind to Hasan Ali and walking off without reviewing despite replays going on to show he had missed the ball by a distance.
That strange dismissal did little to slow England's progress though, Salt had Pakistan, Shaheen in particular, rattled and Crawley quickly took to his task with a couple of top-class straight drives.
Salt's fun was ended at the start of the seventh over when he pulled Rauf's first ball straight to midwicket and Crawley (39) followed when he played all around a straight one from the same bowler in the 13th to leave England 104-3.
England were well ahead of the required rate but wickets were the problem and the situation would have been far worse had Pakistan - whose fielding was lacklustre throughout - not dropped Stokes (32) twice off the bowling of Shadab Khan before the spinner finally got his man caught behind on the sweep.
When Shadab trapped John Simpson (3) lbw soon after, Pakistan were firmly in control with England five down and still 167 short of their target.
Crucially though, Vince remained and was showing all the poise and elegance of a well-established international batsman that so many believed he would have become by this stage of his career and in Gregory, he had a more than capable ally at the crease.
A combination of good running between the wickets and well-timed boundaries helped them whittle away at the total, and when Gregory brought up his first ODI fifty from 53 balls, he took the partnership to three figures as well.
Vince's big moment came in the 41st over with a crunching pull shot for four taking him to a first England century, from 91 balls, in his 50th international innings.
Gregory launched two big sixes into the Hollies Stand to cement the hosts as firm favourites but when both set batsmen fell to Rauf with 29 more runs needed and only tailenders Mahmood and Parkinson left in the hutch, Pakistan were back in contention.
There was to be no dramatic comeback from the away side though as Overton and Carse finished the job for England to seal a special win on a special day in Birmingham.
Watch the first match of the IT20 series between England and Pakistan at Trent Bridge from 6pm on Friday on Sky Sports Cricket.