Jos Buttler’s brilliant 46-ball hundred left his England team-mates speechless as they watched his sustained power-hitting and ingenious deflections from the dressing room.
Buttler finished unbeaten on 116 in the 84-run series-clinching win over Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium, having raced to the fastest-ever one-day international century by an England batsman. His innings broke his own record, and meant he now had possession of his country’s three quickest in all.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, so badly out of form for much of the past five months, upped the ante after Jason Roy (102) had laid the foundation with his own maiden hundred for a total of 355-5 – largely in a stand of 140 with the exemplary Joe Root (71).
England then bowled their hosts out for 271 in 40.4 overs to wrap up a 3-1 series success.
Their captain Eoin Morgan was left to wonder at Buttler’s range of stroke and consistency of cultured hitting in an innings containing 10 fours and eight sixes.
“I think we were lost for words in the changing room,” said the Irishman, who has had no trouble retaining faith in Buttler’s ability even though he had previously gone 22 international innings without a 50.
“So many (words) were used to describe it – but one that wasn’t was a surprise.
“We’re very privileged to work and train day in, day out with Jos. The ability he shows there all came together for him today.” he said.
“It was just absolutely incredible – certainly the best one-day knock I’ve ever seen in an England shirt.”
Buttler’s two previous ODI hundreds were also breath-taking innings, against Sri Lanka at Lord’s last year and then New Zealand at Edgbaston in June.
Even so, he too rated this one the best as well as the fastest.
“It’s the best I’ve ever played for England,” he said.
It came at the venue where he made his ODI debut in 2012, and where he played his most recent Test before being left out earlier this month on the back of his protracted poor form.
He added: “To come back to this ground, having been dropped after the Test match here and have a bit better day is obviously immensely satisfying.
“You just tend to get into a rhythm, and everything is working well – and you just react to the ball that comes down.
“Once I got to 50, feeling like everything was clicking into place, I knew that if I batted the whole innings I’d be up around the 100 mark.
“Everything seemed to come off – when I didn’t get it, it landed in a gap. It was one of those days.”
Morgan could only agree, after Buttler simply played to a level beyond everyone else on a very good pitch.
“The messages we were getting was it was a little bit two-paced ... but it clearly obviously got better to bat on, didn’t it?” the captain asked, turning to Buttler with a smile in their joint post-match press conference.
“To get 350-plus on that wicket really set the game up for us.
“A lot of credit has to go to Jason Roy and Joe Root – the skill they showed put us in that position to be able to promote Jos up the order, was brilliant.”
Roy’s breakthrough innings was another reason for great satisfaction for England, in a series which has seen significant contributions from many quarters.
“It was a fantastic day (for Jason),” said Morgan.
“Everybody remembers the feeling when they score their first hundred in an England shirt – and it’s very special.
“He hasn’t at all been overshadowed. We’ve all seen Jos perform like that - we don’t expect it every day, but certainly it’s a special day for Jason Roy.”
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis, meanwhile, could only reflect on watching his team well beaten.
“In one-day internationals these days, you’ve always got to look to make 300,” he said.
“For us, this is a learning curve.”
Waqar also voiced his confidence that there was “nothing wrong” with the third one-day international against England in Sharjah amid reports the match is under investigation over possible suspicious betting patterns.