The first IT20 between England and Pakistan was abandoned after 16.1 overs on Friday after heavy rain once again disrupted the English cricketing summer.
On a day where all three 20 matches in the country were rained off, the teams almost made it to the end of England’s batting innings, and the visitors would have been the happier of the two teams with England 131/6, but the weather was once again victorious on a frustrating evening in Manchester.
Fast start from Pakistan
Pakistan won the toss and chose to field first. The main story from their XI was the decision to leave out Wahab Riaz, instead opting for Big Bash star Haris Rauf, whilst England left out Joe Denly and David Willey.
As they have done so often recently, Pakistan opened the bowling with spin and Imad Wasim and it proved to be a smart move as the left-armer removed Jonny Bairstow for two off just the fifth ball of the innings, taking an easy catch off his own bowling.
Dawid Malan, averaging over 50 in IT20 cricket, made his way to the crease and saw off the final ball of the over as Imad started well, seeing a wicket in his first over for just three runs.
Shaheen Afridi opened from the James Anderson End and, after being clipped down to fine leg for the first boundary of the day by Tom Banton, saw a nice length ball find the edge of the Somerset opener’s bat. The ball floated at a comfortable height to Iftikhar Ahmed at slip, but the catch went down and Banton was given a life.
Banton and Malan stumbled their way to 34/1 from the first powerplay – not flashy, but a decent enough recovery after the early loss of Bairstow and a decent platform built.
England gain momentum
Malan survived an LBW review on 15, and England finally began to accelerate as the innings moved into the middle overs, Banton sweeping Shadab Khan’s first ball into the leg side for six at the start of the eighth over.
England’s 50 was up at the start of the ninth, and Banton then pulled out the scoop shot against Rauf to pick up another four and move to 35 from 26 balls.
The 21-year-old hit back-to-back sixes at the start of Shadab’s second over, but a huge miscommunication between the batsmen off the third ball saw them find themselves both at the same end, meaning Mohammad Hafeez could easily get the ball back to the bowler for the stumps to be taken off and Malan was the player that had to go, departing for 23.
New man Eoin Morgan reverse swept his first ball over point for four, before Banton brought up his 50 with a cut for a single – the landmark coming from 33 balls with three fours and three sixes. Morgan celebrated by slapping the next ball for six.
Banton added another maximum to take himself to 1000 T20 career runs and continued to accelerate as he scooped for four and then six to take himself to 69 from 38 balls.
Pakistan fight back
Banton was eventually dismissed for 71 from 42 balls when he skied Shadab to Imad at cover, but his innings was an important one for England and it had helped his side reach a very decent position.
Moeen Ali made his way to the crease and punched Iftikhar Ahmed for four off his second ball and Iftikhar’s first, but Morgan was given LBW off the final ball of the over, dismissed for 14 trying to sweep a quicker ball.
Kent captain and hero of the Ireland ODI series Sam Billings joined Moeen in the middle as the rain started to fall, but Moeen was soon dismissed for eight, caught behind at the second attempt by Mohammad Rizwan off Shadab.
Lewis Gregory joined Billings in the middle as England tried to recover from a cluster of wickets, but Gregory too went cheaply for two, stumped by Rizwan charging at Imad.
Rain takes over
Chris Jordan was in at eight as the rain got heavier, and the players went off for rain after 16.1 overs of England’s innings.
The heavens stayed open, and we were given a cutoff time of 21:19 to be playing again. There was hope close to that time, but the rain won on this occasion and the match was abandoned just after 21:00.
The second IT20 is set to be played on Sunday, getting underway at 14:00 BST.