SPIN TO WIN: England beat Pakistan in T20 to level the series
England beat Pakistan in T20 international at Headingley to level the series at 1-1 with one match left to play.
In the second match of the T20 international series, England batted first and posted a total of 200 as they were bowled out with two balls left of their twenty overs. However, that proved to be too much for Pakistan who could only respond with 155-9 as England's spin bowlers delivered a masterclass in defending a score in T20 cricket.
It was a surprise when Pakistan captain Babar Azam won the toss and chose to bowl with a hot day in Leeds meaning batsmen could make the most of a dry pitch. It was an action-packed first over, Jason Roy smashing Imad Wasim for six and four before spiralling a catch to go for 10.
Imad capitalised by picking up Dawid Malan for just 1 on the sweep, leaving Jos Buttler and MoeenAli with some early rebuilding work ahead. They warmed instantly to the task, scoring 19 runs apiece off the fifth and sixth overs, including an outrageous six by Buttler who scooped Mohammad Hasnain over his shoulder.
A powerplay total of 66-2 represented a strong recovery and Moeen kept the crowd catchers in business with a huge smear off Shadab Khan. He eventually fell for 36 off just 16 balls, popping Hasnain to mid-off, but Buttler’s consistent scoring and the arrival of Liam Livingstone kept the tempo red hot.
Fresh from scoring England’s fastest ever century at Trent Bridge, Livingstone clubbed his fourth delivery for six before he and Buttler took turns heaving Imad into the stands in the 13th over. Pakistan needed wickets to halt the march and Hasnain grabbed a key one when Buttler drilled straight to mid-off to go for a well-made 59 off 39 balls to leave England on 137-4.
Jonny Bairstow came and went cheaply on his home ground and Livingstone was messily run out for 38, a few seconds after launching Rauf destructively over the newly developed Football Stand. That left England on 164-6 and the lower order managed another 36 off the last four overs, but lost Tom Curran, Rashid, Chris Jordan and Parkinson to the cause and finished on 200 all out.
It looked like England would find it hard to defend as Pakistan openers Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan guided the visitors to 50-0 but key man Babar was on his way after that for 22 as he saw an attempted drive plug to mid-off off the bowling of Saqib Mahmood.
From that point onwards, Pakistan never looked likely to reach 201 as England's spinners Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali began to find some turn and were able to restrict the scoring as a result. First, Rashid had Sohaib Maqsood stumped for 15 and soon had his second wicket with a brilliant one-handed catch, Rizwan smashing a full toss too close to the local boy’s follow through to depart for 37 and leave Pakistan 82-3.
With the pressure mounting, Moeen cashed in. First Mohammad Hafeez picked out Bairstow at the second attempt, then Fakhar Zaman was cleaned up on the charge as Pakistan slumped to 95-5. With two wickets and just three runs conceded, Moeen’s second spell had effectively settled the result.
Parkinson got a deserved wicket when he foxed Azam Khan for Buttler’s second stumping and Mahmood preyed on the tail, dismissing Shaheen and yorking Rauf to inflate his figures and pick up 3 wickets in total.
But this game was really won by the spinners and with the T20 World Cup coming up later this year in the UAE, one wonders whether a three-pronged spin attack such as the one on show here at Headingley may be the ace card England need to lift the trophy.
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