England defeated Pakistan by three wickets in the third IT20 at Old Trafford on Tuesday in a thriller to take the series 2-1.
After Mohammad Rizwan (76 not out) helped Pakistan to a respectable 154/6 on a tricky surface, England grinded their way to the victory with two balls remaining to win the series in their last match ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.
England struggle in powerplay
England captain Eoin Morgan returned to the home XI for the match, but lost the toss, with Pakistan skipper Babar Azam opting to bat first.
Also back in the England team was David Willey in place of Tom Curran, whilst Matthew Parkinson too missed out. For Pakistan, Usman Qadir and Hassan Ali replaced Azam Khan and Haris Rauf.
David Willey opened the bowling for England and conceded just two runs – the crowd thought a wicket came from the last ball, but replays showed it simply looped up off the pad.
The first boundary arrived in the second over when Mohammad Rizwan flicked Saqib Mahmood for four, and another followed the very next ball with the visitors 11/0 from two overs.
Babar Azam looked awkward trying to score off Willey but released the shackles with a big six down the ground over the long-on boundary. Jos Buttler and Jason Roy then came close but not close enough to taking catches off Chris Jordan as Pakistan continued their good start.
Rizwan then swept Mahmood hard for another six, before Morgan turned to strike bowler Adil Rashid for the last over of the powerplay. The leg-spinner’s googly bamboozled Babar, and Jos Buttler whipped off the bails to stump the Pakistan captain for 11.
Sohaib Maqsood got off the mark with a driven four as Rashid overpitched, and four more followed after a drag down to end the powerplay. Pakistan were 50/1 after the six overs – England’s powerplay struggles again evident with the absence of Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Mark Wood.
Rashid turns it on
Liam Livingstone’s first over went for 11 as England searched for wickets, but Rashid picked up Maqsood for 13, with the Pakistan number three lofting a shot straight down Jason Roy’s throat at long-on.
Rashid had his third soon after, with a drag down that Mohammad Hafeez could only pull to Jonny Bairstow at deep square leg – the big boundaries proving tough for the Pakistan batsmen to clear.
73/3 was the score at the halfway stage of Pakistan’s innings, and England’s spinners were on top with Moeen Ali conceding just four runs from his first over.
Fakhar Zaman however swept Rashid for four before hammering the same bowler into the stands, and the 100 was up in the 13th over. Rizwan then brought up his 50, from 38 balls with four fours and two sixes to set the stool out for a big total.
Moeen Ali picked up Zaman in the 16th over after a successful review, reward for tight bowling in the middle overs. He finished his four overs with figures of 1/19 without conceding a boundary.
Rizwan was left to drag Pakistan to a total with the visitors stalling, and whacked Rashid over his head for six in an attempt to do so.
Shadab Khan was gone for two when he picked out Livingstone in the deep to give Rashid his fourth wicket of the innings - he picked up his best figures in international T20 cricket; 4/35.
Imad Wasim was comically run out bHeading 2y Bairstow and Jordan as he jogged three, before Hasan Ali hit Mahmood for six in the 19th over, and a top edge over the wicketkeeper’s head helped Pakistan past 150 with a few deliveries remaining.
A good last over from Chris Jordan cost just five runs, as Pakistan reached 154/6 with Rizwan finishing not out on 76.
England start strong
Imad Wasim opened for Pakistan to continue his battle with Jason Roy, and conceded just three from the over.
The first boundary of the innings came off the first ball of the second over - bowled by Shaheen Shah Afridi - when Jason Roy carved through the covers for four. Three more fours followed as Roy toyed with the bowler, with the Surrey man rushing to 18 from 11 balls.
Buttler was almost bowled twice trying to scoop Hasan Ali, but Roy released any pressure with a six down the ground off Imad.
Buttler however continued to struggle on nine from 14 balls, but England made it to 45/0 at the end of the powerplay.
Usman Qadir pulled out of his run up late with Buttler looking to switch hit, but the England man did so anyway when the delivery was bowled, picking up four and helping England to 50.
Roy did the same and picked up four of his own, and another boundary followed, this time fine on the leg side.
Buttler escaped a toe-end effort that flew straight up, and followed it up with another switch hit for four.
He was gone the next ball however – another toe-end effort caught by Babar Azam to send the England vice-captain on his way for 21 from 22 balls.
Roy moved to 50 with a hard sweep off Shadab for four, featuring nine fours and one six, and an edge brought four more the very next ball.
The England opener clocked back-to-back fours off Qadir, but he was out next ball, caught at long-off for 64.
Pakistan fight back
The 100 was up in the 12th over, but Jonny Bairstow was dismissed for five, skying Imad Wasim to mid-off.
The required rate began to creep up with scoring becoming more and more difficult, and Moeen Ali was soon on his way too, bowled by Hafeez for one charging down the track.
39 was required to win from the last four overs with spin dominating. Dawid Malan and captain Eoin Morgan each hit a boundary in the 17th over however to get the target below 30.
Morgan then hit Hasan Ali for six as Babar brought pace back, and six more followed to end the over.
The tight ending
Hafeez bowled Malan for 31 to give Pakistan hope, but Liam Livingstone launched his first ball for six to put England back in control.
He tried to finish things the very next ball but was caught. England however required six to win from the last over.
Morgan skied one off the first ball, but Hasan Ali couldn’t make up the ground off his own bowling. Morgan was caught next ball however trying to finish things, leaving England needing four from four.
Chris Jordan hit two twos in a row to see his team over the line by three wickets in a frantic but fascinating game, also meaning England took the series 2-1 ahead of the World Cup later this year.