Ben Stokes, who was leading an England ‘B’ team expressed that he was sure of the team competing against Pakistan but was left surprised by the way they did it, in a one-sided fashion. He also hailed the team for adapting themselves to England’s style of play immediately during the ODI series.
Pakistan walked into the three-match ODI series as favourites, considering how much of a change the England squad had to undergo, in the span of two days. While it saw the return of familiar figures like Ben Stokes, Saqib Mahmood and James Vince, there was still a large chunk of players who were walking into the international scene for the first time in their career.
So when it came to them competing against Pakistan, it was never a questionable factor but the way they overcame Pakistan in the first two ODIs certainly sent out a strong message to the others. Ben Stokes, who was leading the side admitted that he knew the squad would compete well against the visitors but was left surprised by the ease with which they defeated the Asian side in the ODI format.
"I was thinking about this the other day. When I got sent through the squad, I read through and even though it is a last-minute thing, I thought we had a strong and talented squad and I knew we'd be able to compete against Pakistan. But it would be a lie to say I wasn't surprised how easily we have done it. That is just credit to everyone who has turned up here,” Stokes said, reported Cricbuzz.
England continued their merry way in the format, where they have been world-beaters, with their off-the-box start with the bat and quick breakthroughs in the powerplay with the ball. Stokes added that the mindset with which the youngsters went out and performed against an experienced unit in Pakistan was commendable.
"Obviously, it's different personnel but everyone has gone out there and tried to play in the way we want to be known as. For me, that is such a pleasing thing to have a group of young players coming out of county cricket straight into international cricket and they haven't let the occasion phase them whatsoever. I think the fact of us being vocal about how we want to play our cricket has definitely rubbed off on guys who have come in," he added.
Stokes also credited the pace Saqib Mahmood, who was largely instrumental in the side’s win over Pakistan, with his wicket-taking ability in the powerplay. In the opener, the right-arm pacer struck twice in the first over, to send the dangerous Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam in the span of three deliveries.
"Saqi coming in and being the senior bowler has done him the world of good. He hasn't be fazed by anything, he's been taking the new ball, I've asked him to come back on at crucial times in the games and he's performed really well,” he added.
He also credited the entire team for coming and living upto the reputation of England being the top side in the format, playing with a mindset that resembled the ‘A’ team.
“I think one thing is how vocal we have been in the media about how we want to play and I think players see that and read that and come in and buy into that mindset that we have as a white ball group. Everyone who has come into this squad has lived up to that reputation and mindset that we want as an England team.”