MANCHESTER: A nervy England beat a battling Pakistan by three wickets, and with just two balls to spare, in a nail-biting thriller at Old Trafford on Tues­day night that sealed a 2-1 Twenty20 International series win.

Pakistan, who won the toss and opted to bat in front of a noisy 20,000-strong crowd on a slow wicket, had set England a target of 155 at Old Trafford with opener Mohammad Rizwan top scoring with 76 not out.

England were cruising but the loss of Jason Roy for 64, at the halfway point led to a nail-biting and breathless finish as the Pakistan spinners went to work and wickets fell.

Liam Livingstone came in to bat in the penultimate over, sma­s­hing his first ball for a mighty six and was then caught off the next, leaving England needing six runs from the final over.

Eoin Morgan went with four runs still required but Chris Jordan and David Willey did what was needed.

The white-ball match was the last home T20 for Morgan’s England side before the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in October.

“It means a huge amount,” said Morgan of the win. “The style in which we play naturally, and the game which we are best at, I think this is the worst possible wicket that we can actually apply it on.

“So it’s a very proud day for us. On a spinning, slow wicket we’ve managed to win a game against a very good side.”

Pakistan had won the opener at Trent Bridge and England the second encounter at Headingley.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid took four wickets for England, three from his first 10 balls and starting with captain Babar Azam stumped by Jos Buttler for 11 off a googly in the sixth.

Pakistan were 42-1 and Rashid then bagged a quick double as Sohaib Maqsood lofted the ball straight to Jason Roy for 67-2 and Mohammad Hafeez’s high shot was easily plucked by Jonny Bairstow for 69-3.

His fourth wicket came in the 17th when Shadab Khan skied a shot to the leg side and was caught by Livingstone, leaving Rashid to complete his stint with figures of 4-35.

Moeen Ali had Fakhar Zaman (24) out lbw on review and shone in the evening sunshine with figures of 1-19 from his four overs and no boundaries conceded.

Imad Wasim was run out by Bairstow to leave Pakistan on 129-6, paying the price for a jog rather than a sprint.

England reached 60-0 in reply but Buttler (21) swung high in the eighth, with Shadab bowling, and was caught by Babar as Pakistan breathed a sigh of relief.

Roy chalked up his half century in the 10th as England reached the half-way point at 83-1, compared to Pakistan’s 73-3 at the same stage, but then it all went wobbly.

Bairstow went cheaply for five and England needed 51 from 40 balls with Moeen coming to the crease before going for one, bowled clean through the middle stump by Hafeez.

Scoreboard

PAKISTAN:

Mohammad Rizwan not out 76
Babar Azam st Buttler b Rashid 11
Sohaib Maqsood c Roy b Rashid 13
Mohammad Hafeez c Bairstow b Rashid 1
Fakhar Zaman lbw b Moeen 24
Shadab Khan c Livingstone b Rashid 2
Imad Wasim run out 3
Hasan Ali not out 15
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-2, W-3) 9
TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 154
FALL OF WKTS: 1-42 (Babar), 2-67 (Sohaib), 3-69 (Hafeez), 4-114 (Fakhar), 5-125 (Shadab), 6-129 (Imad). DID NOT BAT: Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain. BOWLING: Willey 2-0-10-0; Mahmood 3-0-33-0 (1w); Jordan 4-0-30-0 (1w); Adil Rashid 4-0-35-4 (1w); Livingstone 3-0-21-0; Moeen Ali 4-0-19-1.

ENGLAND:

J.J. Roy c Fakhar b Usman 64
J.C. Buttler c Babar b Shadab 21
D.J. Malan b Hafeez 31
J.M. Bairstow c Sohaib b Imad 5
Moeen Ali b Hafeez 1
E.J.G. Morgan c Shadab b Hasan 21
L.S. Livingstone c Sohaib b Hafeez 6
C.J. Jordan not out 4
D.J. Willey not out 0
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-1) 2
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 19.4 overs) 155
DID NOT BAT: Adil Rashid, S. Mahmood
FALL OF WKTS: 1-67 (Buttler), 2-92 (Roy), 3-104 (Bairstow), 4-112 (Moeen), 5-143 (Malan), 6-149 (Livingstone), 7-151 (Morgan). BOWLING: Imad Wasim 4-0-25-1; Shaheen Shah Afridi 1-0-16-0; Hasan Ali 3.4-0-28-1 (1w); Usman Qadir 4-0-35-1; Shadab Khan 3-0-22-1; Mohammad Hafeez 4-0-28-3. RESULT: England won by three wickets to win three-match series 2-1. UMPIRES: D.J. Millns (England) and A.G. Wharf (England). TV UMPIRE: M.J. Saggers (England). MATCH REFEREE: W.M. Noon (England). PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Jason Roy. PLAYER-OF-THE-SERIES: Liam Livingstone. FIRST MATCH: Trent Bridge, Pakistan won by 31 runs. SECOND MATCH: Headingley, England won by 45 runs.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2021

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