Record-breaking Buttler secures series for England
Jos Buttler struck the fastest one-day international century by an England player, from just 46 balls, as Eoin Morgan’s side beat Pakistan by 84 runs in Dubai to secure a 3-1 series victory.
Buttler lost his place in England’s Test team at the beginning of the month following a dismal run of scores, but hinted at a return to form in the third ODI when he shared a match-winning stand of 117 with James Taylor.
And the wicketkeeper-batsman was back to his brilliant best on Friday, striking 116 not out off 52 deliveries to lift England, who also benefited from Jason Roy’s maiden international hundred, to 355-5 – their highest total in the United Arab Emirates.
Pakistan responded positively in reply, keeping pace with a challenging required rate, but were hampered by the fall of regular wickets as they were dismissed for 271 in the 41st over.
Buttler has now compiled England’s three quickest ODI hundreds, this latest effort comfortably surpassing his 61-ball ton against Sri Lanka last year that previously represented a record.
After winning the toss, England lost Alex Hales for 22 in the 12th over of their innings when he was caught at third man off Mohammad Irfan (2-64).
However, Roy excelled during a second-wicket partnership of 140 with Joe Root (71), the opener delivering on his recent promise to kick on to three figures after being dropped at slip off Yasir Shah (1-57) on 77.
Roy’s joy at reaching three figures proved short-lived as he holed out to long-off for 102, giving Yasir belated reward.
Both Root and Eoin Morgan were then stumped to become the first two victims for Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali in ODI cricket, but Buttler – promoted to number four following Roy’s exit – soon got into his stride.
Having reached 50 from 30 balls, Buttler moved into overdrive late in the innings, clearing the ropes on a regular basis with shots all around the wicket as he dominated stands with James Taylor (13) and Moeen Ali (4 not out).
England took 79 from the last five overs alone, Buttler finishing with eight maximums and 10 fours, and although Pakistan began their innings aggressively, David Willey (2-34) soon removed the recalled Ahmed Shehzad (13) and Azhar (44).
After a trio of calamitous run outs in the third game of the series as Pakistan collapsed from 132-2 to 208 all out, Mohammad Hafeez (37) was the victim of another mix-up between the wickets to leave the score reading 129-3.
Babar Azam (51) and Shoaib Malik (52) kept their side in the hunt with brisk half-centuries, but when the latter became the sixth batsman out, with 128 still required, Pakistan had too much to do.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid claimed 3-78 – figures that reflected the frantic nature of the chase – while Moeen picked up the last three scalps in successive overs to finish with 3-53.