Skipper Eoin Morgan admits that selection headaches lie ahead after his re-jigged side dispatched Pakistan by four wickets at Headingley to boost their chances of whitewashing the beleaguered tourists.
England opted to rotate their bowlers for the clash but were forced into another last-minute change as Jos Buttler suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up. Jonny Bairstow was thrust into action and he responded with a knock of 61.
The hosts were teetering at 72-4 before Bairstow joined Ben Stokes, who top scored with a 70-ball 69, at the crease. All-rounder Moeen Ali, who did not concede a boundary during his 10-over bowling spell, finished unbeaten on 45.
Earlier, England had restricted Pakistan to 247-8 as Adil Rashid claimed 3-47 on his home ground. Captain Azhar Ali amassed 80, while there was also an unbeaten half-century for Imad Wasim.
“It’s not easy,” said Morgan. “There are guys challenging for places every game.
“Jonny Bairstow stood out like a sore thumb replacing Jos Buttler. It was a man of the match performance from him and he was outstanding but he’s finding it hard to get into a really good side at the moment, which is a good sign for us.”
This was Bairstow’s first appearance of a series which England now lead 4-0 with one match, at Cardiff on Sunday, to play. The hosts also hold an unassailable 16-8 lead in the Super Series.
Bairstow said: “We were disappointed that Jos had to pull out but it gave me an opportunity and I’m delighted with the way that I played.
“I’d like to cement a place at some point in time and really get my teeth into it but with the strength in depth we have got at the moment and the strength of the squad we’re only going from strength to strength and it’s spurring everyone on to get better.”
England’s successful run-chase, which was completed with two overs to spare, was spearheaded by Stokes, Bairstow and Moeen – three players who did not bat during their side’s record-breaking score of 444-3 at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.
Stokes’s innings of 69 was his highest one-day international knock in this country, while his partnership of 103 with Bairstow stoked England’s recovery after they had lost Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Morgan cheaply.
Spin duo Rashid, who was one of five Yorkshire players turning out on their own turf, and Moeen shared five wickets as the pair adjusted to the conditions admirably.