LONDON: Jofra Archer continued his bid to earn a place in England´s World Cup squad with a hostile opening spell against Pakistan before rain meant there was no result in Wednesday´s first one-day international at The Oval.
Archer conceded just six runs in four overs in a wicket-taking spell after England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss.
The Sussex fast bowler´s display was a rare highlight for a patient crowd who endured several rain interruptions in a mere 19 overs´ cricket in south London before the umpires finally called this day/night fixture off at 7:11 pm (1811 GMT) local time.
Pakistan were 80 for two, with Imam-ul-Haq 42 not out and Haris Sohail unbeaten on 14.
Barbados-born Archer was not included in tournament hosts´ England´s preliminary squad for the World Cup but has a chance to force his way into their final 15.
He showed glimpses of his ability while making ODI and Twenty20 international debuts against Ireland and Pakistan last week.
On Tuesday, former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff say “anyone” should be dropped to make sure Archer had a place in the World Cup squad.
And Archer seized his latest chance in Wednesday´s opening contest of a five-match ODI series with Pakistan after England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss.
Archer started with a superb maiden over to Imam, generating movement off the pitch at sharp pace.
And it was not long before he had Fakhar Zaman — the century-making star of Pakistan´s 2017 Champions Trophy final win over arch-rivals India at The Oval — edging on three to Test skipper Joe Root in the slips.
New batsman Babar Azam (16) struck three stylish boundaries before he edged Liam Plunkett to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler, with Pakistan now 45 for two.
What turned out to be the last ball of the day saw Buttler miss a chance to stump Haris off leg-spinner Adil Rashid, with the batsman stranded down the pitch.
Imam recovered his composure after Archer´s fine start, the opener facing 68 balls, including five fours.
The series continues at Southampton on Saturday. It is expected to be a true test of preparations for Pakistan and England as they gear up for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup.
The series is taking place just a few weeks before the 50-over men’s tournament gets underway, with hosts England – the number one ranked side in ODI cricket – looking to win the Cup for the first time.
The last time that the Pakistan cricket team played an ODI at The Oval was when they outclassed India in the final of Champions Trophy in June 2017, in a remarkable turnaround to be remembered for decades. With memories of that stunning comeback still fresh in their minds, Pakistan would be hoping to bounce back today from the defeat in the lone T20 international against England in Cardiff on Sunday.
A victory in this series would be much needed: Pakistan have lost 12 of their 23 matches in the last year and suffered a 5-0 whitewash by Australia in the UAE in their latest ODI engagement earlier this year, although they were led by Shoaib Malik in that series, who was standing in for regular skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
This series would be a true test of the team’s preparations for the World Cup, which begins in England and Wales from May 30, and the Sarfaraz-led Pakistan would be looking to boost their confidence ahead of the mega event.
England, meanwhile, have won six of their last seven ODIs at The Oval