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Jos Buttler serves a sizzler before the World Cup

Of the ten fastest ODI centuries for England, Jos Buttler has scored five. In fact, he occupies the top two spots now. With eight ODI centuries, he is fifth on the all-time centurions’ list for the nation. On Saturday, 11th May, Buttler scored his 8th One Day hundred against Pakistan at Southampton in just 50 balls thus becoming England’s second-fastest centurion.

Warming up for the mega event, England is facing Pakistan in a home series. After the washout in the first ODI, the second match provided excellent entertainment as both teams enjoyed a run-feast. It was Pakistan’s Captain Sarfraz Ahmed who won the toss and set the stage for a high-scoring thriller.

English openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow were off to a fantastic start. The duo added 115 runs in just 19 overs. Bairstow 51(45) was the first to fall. His partner Roy was dismissed on 87 in 30th over. English captain Eoin Morgan and Joe Root added 34 for the third wicket in the next five overs. When Yasir Shah sent back Root, England’s score was 211/3 in 35.1 overs.

Jos Buttler walked out to bat at number five. The second ball he faced was a short delivery from Yasir; Buttler pulled it away for a six. The stubborn leggie bowled the remaining two balls at the same length; they were duly dispatched for boundaries. Buttler raced to 15*(4).

After the initial assault, Morgan took over and Buttler slowed down. On 46*(31), Buttler smashed a tennis shot off Faheem Ashraf to complete his half-century. After this, there was no respite for the Pakistani bowlers. Buttler got into rage mode and started slamming sixes off the bowlers that came his way. He peppered the legside with cross-batted shots. His journey from 50 to 94 included five sixes, no fours.

On 94*(49), Hasan Ali served a full-length ball outside off-stump that Buttler promptly dispatched over long off to complete his record ton – the second-fastest hundred for England in ODIs. He backed it up with consecutive boundaries. With 60 runs in last 22 balls, Buttler ended up on 110 not out from 55 balls. England posted 373/3 in their first innings. Pakistan tried hard but fell just 12 runs short of the target. You can guess the Player of the match.

Since the 2015 World Cup, Jos Buttler has scored 2217 runs in 59 innings at an average of 51.55 with a strike rate of 125.46. No other batsman comes even close to that strike rate for this amount of runs. For a batsman batting out of top-three slots, Buttler’s seven centuries are just one short of the leader (Ross Taylor – 8). Three months ago, he smashed a 77-ball 150 against West Indies at Grenada. The man is in prime form.

In his last 10 ODI innings, Buttler has smashed three centuries and one half-century. With the World Cup looming over, the wicket-keeper batsman will be England’s key batsman in the death overs. Buttler already has the record of scoring the fastest ODI century for England (46 balls vs Pakistan at Dubai, 2015). The batsman has now set his eyes on improving his own record. Whether he can make that happen during the World Cup, only time shall tell.

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