England 337 for 9 (Stokes 84, Root 60, Bairstow 59, Rauf 3-64) beat Pakistan 244 (Salman 51, Willey 3-56) by 93 runs
England’s soon-to-be-deposed world champions bade farewell to the 2023 World Cup with a glimpse of their former domineering selves, as they marched to an emphatic 93-run win over Pakistan at Eden Gardens. Babar Azam’s men are officially out of semi-final contention.
David Willey marked the final appearance of his international career with a sparky all-round display that included his 100th and final ODI wicket, and after Ben Stokes had underpinned an imposing total of 337 for 9 with his second forceful outing in quick succession, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid turned the screw on a spin-friendly surface to snuff out any pretence of a contest with four wickets between them.
England vs Pakistan could have been one of the matches of the World Cup, and surely would have been had either team lived up to their pre-tournament expectations. Instead, both slipped out of the sidedoor among the also-rans, even if England’s second victory in quick succession did confirm them a seventh-place finish in the group-stage standings, and a place at the 2025 Champions Trophy – the most pyrrhic of consolation prizes.
As for Pakistan, their despondent display began from the moment that Jos Buttler called correctly at the toss. With fourth-placed New Zealand streets ahead of them on net run-rate, their already slim chance of reaching the semi-finals had rested on putting a huge score on the board and routing England by 287 runs or more in response – which, to be fair, wasn’t totally outlandish given England’s experiences in the tournament so far.
Being asked to bowl first, however, was a different matter. Once Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan had biffed along to 72 for 0 in the powerplay – England’s highest of the tournament – Pakistan already needed to be able to tick off that total inside three overs, and that requirement only rose exponentially with every additional run. Their eventual target of 338 meant their challenge would be officially snuffed out after 6.4 overs of their chase, by which stage Willey had reduced them to 30 for 2 with his 98th and 99th ODI wickets.
From there the only way was down for Pakistan. Babar Azam miscued Gus Atkinson to midwicket to end his campaign as he had begun it against the Netherlands, while Mohammad Rizwan also provided an unwitting echo of past performances, as he galloped down the pitch to Moeen and seized up with cramp while the ball gripped to bowl him through his gate – a comedic reprise of his heroics against Sri Lanka earlier in the campaign.