David Willey signed off with a flourish as England beat Pakistan by 93 runs. In his final game for England, Willey struck early with swing to remove Abdullah Shafique and the dangerous Fakhar Zaman who had given the left-arm pacer the charge but was deceived by the length being shortened. Willey returned to dismiss Agha Salman to end with 100 ODI wickets. Babar Azam played fluently but, like it has been through this World Cup, went for 38 when he looked good for more.
The match ended as a contest at the toss after England chose to bat. Perhaps because it did, England played like the world was used to seeing before they came to India. And a campaign where they had looked an imitation of the team that had redefined the white-ball game ended with Mick Jagger in the house on Saturday, with some satisfaction.
Like they have through this competition, Pakistan gave them reprieves: Shaheen Shah Afridi couldn’t pouch difficult chances off his bowling when Dawid Malan (31) and Ben Stokes were on zero and Jos Buttler may have been out twice in the 44th over. So, England reached 337/9.
Mohammad Rizwan cramping after stepping out and being bowled summed up Pakistan’s reply on a slow, turning track where the highest partnership of 53 came from the last pair. Encapsulating England’s efficient bowling performance was an Adil Rashid googly that bowled Saud Shakeel around his legs.
England’s innings was headlined by a Stokes knock that began slowly before coming alive with strokes that had power and panache. It was at Eden that Stokes was left on his haunches by Carlos Brathwaite in 2016. Months later in 2017, he produced a player-of-the-match performance in an ODI against India. That was the last time he had played for England here and if there isn’t another, this innings of 84 (76b; 11×4, 2×6), and three smart catches, will be a fitting farewell.
Afridi produced a beauty to stymie Stokes, the reverse-swinging yorker uprooting off-stump. By then, Stokes and Joe Root (60) had added 132 for the third wicket. Bookended by an 82-run opening stand and backend power hitting by Harry Brook (30 off 17), who has an IPL century here, and Willey (15 off 5), it took England past 300 for the second time in as many games. Problem was, it was the third time in nine games, in two of which they couldn’t get past 200.