Kolkata | England's star-studded batting line-up saved their best for the last as half-centuries by Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow powered the 2019 champions to 337 for 9 against a beleaguered Pakistan attack in final World Cup league game here on Saturday.
Premier all-rounder Stokes, who missed their first three matches owing to a hip injury, headlined their batting show in a 76-ball 84. Jonny Bairstow (59 off 61 balls) and Joe Root (60 off 72 balls) also made handsome contributions to bolster the total.
Having scored 339/9 against the Netherlands in their last match, this was England's second successive 300-plus total. as the stiff target for Pakistan meant that they now can only upstage New Zealand from the fourth spot and make semifinals in theory.
Pakistan face the impossible task of chasing the target in 6.4 overs. In theory, even if they hit 40 sixes off 40 deliveries, that can only get them to 240.
However they can finish inside the top-five by scoring at least 188.
England batters however failed to fire at the death as from being 240/2 in 40 overs they managed 97 runs in the last 10 overs, in a period when they also lost seven wickets.
Haris Rauf returned with 3/64, while Shaheen Shah Afridi bagged 2/72 and denied Stokes a well-deserved century by cleaning up the left-hander with a reverse-swinging delivery that tailed in.
However Rauf also became the first Asian bowler to earn the ignominy of giving away 500 runs in the tournament.
The 32-year-old Stokes, who came out of ODI retirement to take part in England's title defence in the World Cup, smashed two sixes and 11 fours, in a display of his full-blooded reverse sweeps and mighty pulls.
Since his return, he has made his impact felt with three back-to-back 50-plus scores which also include one century as he signed off the World Cup with 304 runs at 50.66.
Premier batter Root was the weak link continuing his World Cup struggle, but Stokes' fury also rubbed on him as he ended up with a fifty plus knock.
The duo consolidated after a quick start in a 132-run partnership that came off just 131 balls.
Bairstow's brisk 59 off 61 balls (7x4, 1x6) provided a perfect start for England in an 82-run opening stand with Dawid Malan (31; 39b).
Pakistan did well to claw back taking two wickets in 26 runs. Off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed gave the breakthrough dismissing in-form Malan, while Bairstow failed to convert his start and gifted his wicket to Rauf.
But there were dropped catches, edges missed the stumps, while fielding was an eye-sore as Pakistan could not capitalise.
The costliest of the two dropped catches off his own bowling by Afridi was that of Stokes on 10, as the premier English all-rounder was quick to switch gears taking on the left-arm quick.
From eight runs in first three overs, England opening duo of Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow stepped it up in style to power them to 72 for no loss in 10 overs, their highest powerplay score in this World Cup.
After conceding a maiden up front, Bairstow stepped on the accelerator, smashing Shaheen for the first six of their innings. en route to his second fifty of the world cup.
The fresh wicket on offer had some swing to offer with Shaheen and Rauf beating the bat a few times, but the duo saw off the new-ball threat before capitalising.
Shaheen also dropped England's in-form batter Malan for a duck, a tough chance when the left-hander gave a straight return catch.
But fortunately he did not go on to make it big this time and got out for 31.