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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 Roy’s 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.
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 Azam’s 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.
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.
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Stokes guides England home
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 runchase.
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 38 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 man’s bat being on the crease line when the bail was removed.
Both Stokes, who struck three sixes, and Curran peppered the square boundaries, until Curran was bowled by Hasan Ali in the 48th over.
Adil Rashid joined Stokes with 19 needed from the final two, but Junaid Khan’s 49th was taken for 16 and Stokes won it from the third ball of the final over.
Roy ton precedes England collapse
For long periods it looked like Roy would lead England to overhaul a massive total with impunity, just as Bairstow’s century was the catalyst for a comfortable chase of 359 in Bristol on Tuesday.
With Bairstow rested, Roy added 94 with new opening partner James Vince and then 107 with Joe Root.
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.
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.
The collapse made Pakistan favourites, but that was to discount the unflappable Stokes.
Not enough for Pakistan
As the battle for pace-bowling spots in England’s 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.
Wood, at 93mph, and Archer, 90mph, certainly brought an extra dimension to an attack that, at times in this series, has looked one-paced.
Indeed, Wood hit Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq on the elbow and forced him to retire hurt. Later, he also rattled Imad Wasim’s helmet whilst Archer bounced the returning Imam.
In between, Babar guided Pakistan with his composed century, adding 107 with Fakhar and 104 with Mohammad, 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 side’s fielding and Curran, who boosted his own World Cup hopes with yorkers and slower balls even before his effort with the bat.
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