Bairstow back with a bang

Posted in England v Pakistan (in UAE) 2012

Jonny Bairstow

Jonny Bairstow drives confidently en route to his first half-century for England

Little more than five months have passed since Jonny Bairstow announced himself on the world stage in stunning fashion with a match-winning contribution on England debut against India in Cardiff.

The Yorkshireman’s unbeaten 21-ball 41 at the SWALEC Stadium, which carried England home in their final one-day international of the summer, prompted many commentators and pundits to forecast a bright future at the highest level for Bairstow.

Yet a chastening tour of India the following month, where he - along with many of his team-mates - struggled badly for form, resulted in the youngster losing his place in Alastair Cook’s one-day side for the recent games against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Restored to the XI for the three-match Twenty20 series, Bairstow tonight offered a timely reminder of his qualities with a wonderful innings of 60 not out in Dubai, his first half-century in an England shirt.

And while his boundary-laden blitz in Cardiff may have been spectacular, this knock must surely be ranked as his finest contribution to date.

After arriving at the crease with England having lost wickets in three successive overs, Bairstow judged the situation perfectly and maintained the tourists’ healthy run-rate without ever taking undue risk.

Indeed, in a match where Craig Kieswetter was the only other man to pass 30, the 22-year-old appeared to be batting on a different wicket to everybody else, such was the ease with which he accumulated runs all around the wicket.

Each of his seven boundaries, including two sixes reminiscent of his efforts on debut, came as a result of sweetly-timed strokes executed with precision.

Encouragingly, there were also signs that Bairstow had learned from his troublesome experiences in India, as he used his feet superbly to counter the threat of Pakistan’s spinners.

There was an early sign of what was to come when he advanced down the track early in his innings to chip Shahid Afridi over the infield for four. Several more impressive drives followed, but Bairstow also demonstrated his capacity to excel off the back foot as he pulled Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi to the midwicket fence.

After moving to his fifty in the final over of England’s innings, Bairstow provided one further moment of magic when he picked a slower ball from Umar Gul and lofted the seamer high over long-on for his second maximum.

Pakistan’s subsequent struggles with the bat merely emphasised the value of his contribution.

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