Jos Buttler hit the fastest one-day hundred by an Englishman to guide England to an 84-run win over Pakistan in the fourth and final day-night international in Dubai on Friday for a 3-1 series triumph.
Buttler’s 52-ball 116 not out — his hundred coming off just 46 deliveries — coupled with a maiden century by opener Jason Roy lifted England to an imposing 355-5 before Pakistan were bowled out for 271 in 40.4 overs.
The win gave England their second series win since the World Cup disaster earlier this year where they failed to qualify for the quarter-finals.
They also beat New Zealand 3-2 at home but lost to Australia by the same margin.
Pakistan won the first match of the four-game series by six wickets while England took the second by 95 runs and the third by six wickets.
Pakistan needed to improve upon their best-ever run chase — 327 against Bangladesh in March last year — but despite good knocks from Babar Azam (51 off 51 balls), Shoaib Malik (34-ball 52) and skipper Azhar Ali (44 off 32 balls) they fell short.
Mohammad Hafeez made 37 and Anwar Ali 24 as spinners Moeen Ali (3-53), Adil Rashid (3-78) and seamer David Willey (2-34) took wickets at regular intervals to stop Pakistan from pulling out a series-levelling win.
Azam and Hafeez added 65 for the third wicket while Azam added 47 for the fourth with Malik but that was never enough to overhaul a stiff target.
England skipper Eoin Morgan praised the ruthless Buttler.
“I think we were lost for words in the dressing room to describe that knock,” said Morgan on Buttler’s aggression. “We are priviliged to work and train with Jos and the ability he shows there today it all came together and that was absolutely incredible.
“I think the best one-day knock I have seen in the England shirt. We are delighted at this series win.”
Azhar said Pakistan needed a big innings to overhaul the target.
“I think we were good in chase but needed a big innings which unfortunately did not come,” said the Pakistan captain. “We played poor cricket which cost us the series.”
It was Buttler who stole the limelight ahead of Roy.
Buttler smashed medium-pacer Anwar for his eighth six to complete his third one-day century off just 46 balls — also the joint-seventh fastest one-day hundred — to help England score 129 in the final ten overs.
He improved his own record of a 61-ball hundred — the previous fastest hundred for England — made against Sri Lanka at Lord’s in May last year.
In all Buttler clobbered eight sixes and ten boundaries to pulverise Pakistan’s bowling.
Buttler’s batting heroics overshadowed Roy’s 117-ball knock after England, who won the toss and batted, thrived on a batsman-friendly pitch.
Roy added 140 for the second wicket with Joe Root (71) to set an ideal platform for Buttler.
Roy took a single off leg-spinner Yasir Shah to complete his three figures off 113 balls but two runs later was caught off the same bowler.
Roy, whose previous best of 67 came against Australia at Southampton in September, hit eight boundaries and a six.
Root ably supported Roy, hitting three boundaries and two sixes during his run-a-ball innings before he was stumped off the bowling of Azhar who finished with 2-26.
Roy and fellow opener Alex Hales laid the platform for England as they took the score to 54 in the 12th over.
But it was Buttler who lifted the tempo, reaching 50 off just 30 balls and taking 22 off Anwar’s 46th over in a demonstration of clean hitting.