Thriller at Trent Bridge

Going into the match, the mood could not have been more different in the England and Pakistan camps.

Wahab Riaz celebrates after taking the wicket of Chris Woakes.   -  Getty Images

You never know what to expect from Pakistan. It is a volatile side that can so easily implode. Or, this talented bunch can floor fancied teams.

Like how England found out the other day at Nottingham. The tournament favourite went down by 14 runs to an inspired Pakistan. The thriller at Trent Bridge had everything — moments of brilliance, changing shades, comebacks and tension as the contest entered the decisive phase.

Going into the match, the mood could not have been more different in the two camps. England had crushed South Africa in the tournament opener and its all-round strength was in view.

In contrast, Pakistan had been blown away by the West Indians, its batting exposed by fiery short-pitched bowling by the West Indian quicks on a lively surface.

But then, Pakistan has this ability to lift its game; strike when no one expects it to.

Importantly, Pakistan applied itself while batting before putting its foot on the accelerator to pile up an imposing 348 for eight.

Then the side defended the target with verve against a strong English line-up, withstood Joe Root’s cultured strokeplay (107 off 104 balls) and the onslaught from a belligerent Jos Buttler (103 off 76 balls) and found the right answers in the end.

Mohammed Amir removing Buttler with an off-cutter laced with bounce was a pivotal moment.

Then, back-from-oblivion left-armer Wahab Riaz, displaying passion and generating speed of old, sent back Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes with pace and lift in the 48th over and celebrated as only he can. The bruising encounter had been won by Pakistan. England elected to field, hoping to exploit early assistance from the pitch but both Woakes — he can get the new ball to dart around in the English conditions — and Jofra Archer found the going tough against the Pakistani openers, Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman.

Apart from Moeen Ali’s off-spin and some handy seam bowling by Mark Wood, the English attack took a pounding.

Babar Azam (63), Mohammad Hafeez (84) and Sarfraz Ahmed (55), working the ball around, running hard and hammering the ball through the gaps, gave the bowlers the runs they wanted.

And the bowlers delivered. Riaz’s roar was proof of that.