England batsman James Vince’s maiden ODI century outshined Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s remarkable batting effort to help the hosts complete a 3-0 clean sweep in the three-match ODI series against the Man in Green on Tuesday (July 13) in Birmingham.
Put in to bat first, Pakistan posted a competitive total of 331/9 thanks to Babar's career-best knock of 158 and fifties from Imam-ul-Haq (56) and Mohammad Rizwan (74), but Vince’ 102 and Lewis Gregory’s 77 runs were enough for England to win the third and final ODI by 3 wickets to seal the series 3-0.
Gregory and Vince added 129 runs for the 6th wicket as they set up a victory firmly on the cards for England before the two were dismissed by Haris Rauf on Tuesday. The right-hander was given Player of the Match award for his batting efforts in Birmingham.
After hitting a brilliant maiden ODI hundred and that too in England’s winning cause, Vince admitted that he didn't even expect to play for his country, but said that’s doesn’t mean he had given up on playing for England at all. He also hopes this knock show people what he is capable of.
Vince told ESPNcricinfo after the game, “This time last week I didn't expect [to be in the squad] at all. It wasn't that I had given up [on playing for England]. But I did have a bit of a shift in mindset. I'd had a realization I wasn't going to be in the squad and that I wasn't high up in the pecking order.”
The 30-year-old added, “I know the opinions people have on my career: that I get starts but don't go on and make big contributions. And opinions are like that because it's been the case. This innings is a bit overdue. But hopefully, this will give me more confidence. And other people as well. Hopefully, some other people in the dressing room will know that I'm capable of doing it now.”
On his maiden ODI tone, he said: "I'll never forget today. It was, without a doubt, one of the best days I've had. To be able to score a hundred for my country was one of my dreams growing up. I didn't know if this moment was ever going to come. It's very special for me. The crowd was awesome and to make a contribution to us winning… I don't normally show too much emotion, but that moment was pretty special.”
Vince has pointed out that many of his white-ball opportunities came as a replacement, but only one or two opportunities and that hasn't helped but he was happy to play three games in a row against Pakistan.
He added, “My opportunities have been quite spread out over four or five years. I've usually been filling in for Alex Hales or Jason Roy. That white-ball team has done so well. I've always been on the fringes and playing here and there. Coming into this series and playing three in a row was quite nice.”
With Jos Buttler and Joe Root set to return to the side after completing the isolation competition, the right-hander is realistic about his future with the England side as the competition for the places remains intense but hopes his innings keep him on the radar.
Vince signed off by saying, “I don't know when the next opportunity will be or if there will be another one. It's one innings in white-ball cricket. Hopefully, it keeps me on the radar. But I'm not going to get my hopes up. I've proved something to myself and hopefully others. But I'm realistic. I know how well the squad has done.”
(With IANS Inputs)