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England survived a scare to win the fourth one-day international against Pakistan by three wickets and wrap up the series with a game to spare.
Jason Roys century had the home side coasting their chase of 341, only for his dismissal to spark a collapse of four wickets for 15 runs.
But Ben Stokes made 71 not out and Tom Curran, who should have been run out on seven, 31 to get the hosts over the line with three balls to spare.
44th over: England 287-6 (Stokes 46, Curran 19) – target 341 They didnt even go upstairs for that run-out, which seems absolutely extraordinary. Think England got away with one there, as they do when Curran tries to turn one to square leg which loops off a leading edge, but to safety. Junaid tries a couple of slightly slower short uns, the first of which Curran misses but the second is nailed to the mid-wicket ropes, and he gets four more thanks to the abject fielding of Hassan at fine leg, who lets a simple one go through his legs. Time for a cut to Sarfaraz looking miffed…and there it is.
In perfect batting conditions on the Trent Bridge ground where England have racked up the two highest ODI totals of all time, Pakistan posted 340-7.
Babar Azams controlled 115 was the mainstay yet, even with England missing suspended captain Eoin Morgan and rested opener Jonny Bairstow, the visitors total did not feel like it should have posed a challenge.
21st over: England 149-1 (Roy 85, Root 17) – target 341 After a spell of 19 balls – a comparative age by this England teams standards – where the only runs scored were singles, Roy decides to spice things up with a lovely scoop, which sails over the fine leg boundary. Then another six, this time in more conventional style, with a pull shot off Junaid that genuinely could not have got above about eight feet all the way there. Some wheels on that shot.
That England were ultimately tested can only be good for their World Cup preparations and winning with a much-changed side – Chris Woakes, David Willey and Liam Plunkett were also rested – further demonstrates the depth of their squad.
England take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, which concludes at Headingley on Sunday.
England were put under pressure in the second match of the series, when Pakistan almost overhauled 373 in Southampton, but they dominated the third match in Bristol.
As far as their World Cup build-up goes, this was a new examination as they recovered after wobbling in a run-chase.
In addition, it was a welcome return to form for Stokes, who struggled with bat and ball at the end of the IPL and has not yet taken a wicket in this series.
With England needing 125 from 19.4 overs, Stokes first shared 42 with Joe Denly and then, crucially, 61 with Curran, who earlier claimed 4-75 with the ball.
There was a bizarre moment when Curran should have been run out, only for Pakistan not to appeal despite the Surrey mans bat being on the crease line when the bail was removed.
34th over: England 230-5 (Stokes 18, Denly 8) – target 341 Denly sweeps fine for a couple, so fine in fact that I didnt initially didnt think he hit it with the bat. Six runs from the over, which is perfectly sensible, but I guess the only slight issue England might have is that they can play like this for a bit, but not that long before they cut loose a bit more.
Both Stokes, who struck three sixes, and Curran peppered the square boundaries, until Curran was bowled by Hassan Ali in the 48th over.
Adil Rashid joined Stokes with 19 needed from the final two, but Junaid Khans 49th was taken for 16 and Stokes won it from the third ball of the final over.
For long periods it looked like Roy would lead England to overhaul a massive total with impunity, just as Bairstows century was the catalyst for a comfortable chase of 359 in Bristol on Tuesday.
He was dropped on 25 by Fakhar Zaman, one of a number of early Pakistan mistakes in the field, and scored all around the wicket – his four sixes were close to being the points of a compass.
After he reached his eighth ODI hundred from 75 balls with an incredible maximum over cover, even a double century seemed possible, but when he gloved an attempted pull off Mohammad Hasnain, the fortunes of both sides were reversed.
Jason Roy, who had added 94 for the first wicket with James Vince, was first to go, gloving Mohammad Hasnain down the leg side after a scintillating 114 from 89 balls. But what followed was the kind of headless 15 minutes that critics fear could yet scupper Englands attempts to win a first World Cup.
Root was well caught at short third man by Mohammad Hafeez off Imad Wasim, stand-in captain Jos Buttler swept the same bowler to short fine leg for a two-ball duck and Moeen Ali sloppily miscued Shoaib Malik to mid-wicket.
As the battle for pace-bowling spots in Englands World Cup squad continues, much intrigue surrounded the Nottingham new-ball pairing of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, the fastest bowlers at the hosts disposal.
With both bowlers regularly touching 90mph, there was an extra dimension to an attack that, at times in this series, has looked one-paced.
With his eighth ball back in competitive cricket after a gap of over two months, he struck Imam an eye-watering blow on the left elbow. It sent Imam to the local infirmary, where an X-ray revealed nothing worse than swelling, and a message to Englands World Cup opponents.
Indeed, Wood hit Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq on the elbow and forced him to retire hurt. Later, he also rattled Imad Wasims helmet whilst Archer bounced the returning Imam.
In between, Babar guided Pakistan with his composed century, adding 107 with Fakhar and 104 with Mohammad Hafeez, who both made half-centuries.
However, in such excellent batting conditions, there remained the suspicion that the tourists lacked the intent to get to a total that was going to defeat England.
Not only that, but they were kept in check by the home sides fielding and Curran, who boosted his own World Cup hopes with yorkers and slower balls even before his effort with the bat.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “This game almost been the perfect scenario for England: to be put under this pressure with their key all-rounder not out at the end having not been in good form.
“Ben Stokes – he hasnt been playing well – needed time in the middle, in a tight situation, where the balance had swung to Pakistan winning and he took England home with some good blows.
“If their fielding can get to a reasonable standard – some of the fumbles werent even amateurish – I have seen enough that they will threaten a lot of teams in the World Cup.”
England captain Jos Buttler on TMS: “It was a very good win. For the large majority of the game we were very good.
“We had a really poor couple of overs with the bat which is disappointing but for Ben Stokes to be there at the end having a great partnership with Tom Curran was good for us.
“I think the bowlers did brilliantly today. 340, as silly as it sounds, was a few under what we could have been chasing after Pakistan got off to a great start. We have seen scores getting higher and higher. 340 wasnt a massive score to chase today.
“It [final World Cup squad] is a really tough decision for the guys to have to make but what is great for us is guys standing up. Tom Curran had a fantastic all-round day today.”