Despite ending up on the losing side in the final One Day International (ODI) against Pakistan at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Sunday (September 4), England managed an emphatic 4-1 series win, and limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan attributed it to “outstanding” performance from the team throughout the series.
“We’ve been outstanding. One of the things we identified before the Pakistan tour was we want to strive to be as consistent as we can. We don’t want to be the best one day and the worst another. Every game throughout the series, we’ve come out with a hunger and determination to perform at our best,” Morgan said at the post-match press conference.
“Even after winning the series 3-0 and being pushed back chasing 250, I thought we showed a huge amount of character at Leeds. We have shown a lot of strength throughout this series, and more to build on,” the England captain added.
Quick wickets in the death overs meant that England, who were asked to bat first, finished 40-50 runs less than what they would have hoped for. Morgan admitted that the hosts “lost momentum” towards the end of the first innings, but he chose to dwell on the positives.
“We lost a lot of momentum by losing wickets in the fashion we did,” Morgan said. “We don’t really worry about the consequences. We just want to be better at executing the shots we want to play so we can post 350. The fact we fell short and only got 300 isn’t a bad thing. I thought Jason Roy played well, and Ben Stokes backed up his innings from Leeds again. We’re disappointed to lose, but I don’t think it was that bad a performance,” Morgan said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali was lavish in his praise of Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, who came up with a crucial 163-run stand that got Pakistan back in the chase of 303 after they were reeling at 77 for 3 at one stage.
“The series was gone but credit should be given to the boys for the way they played today’s game. It’s a very good feeling right now. The way Sarfraz and Shoaib batted, we lost two wickets in one over and that could have been a turning point of the game but the way they built up the partnership was brilliant,” Azhar said.
Despite their consolation victory, the 4-1 scoreline has meant that Pakistan have plummeted to their lowest-ever rating of 86 points in the International Cricket Council ODI rankings. Currently placed ninth – eight points behind the eighth-ranked West Indies – Pakistan are in danger of losing out on automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, with the cut-off date of September 30, 2017 only a year away.
Azhar had no qualms in admitting that his team has a lot of work to do to get out of the uncomfortable position they are in currently, but was happy that they could at least finish with a morale-boosting win. “Series was gone, losing 4-1 is not a result you want, but the way things were as a team we wanted to finish on a good note and that’s what we achieved. There are a lot of things need to be improved, as a team we have to gel together and keep working on it.
“A few guys we have seen on this tour have really stepped up, they are young guys and if they can play good consistent cricket we are looking at a bright future. These are very good signs and especially the way Sarfraz batted, this whole tour he’s been exceptional. He’s been positive and scoring good runs at No. 5, so we’ve got some good performances but we just need to bind it together and start playing consistent cricket,” Azhar said.