LAHORE: Pakistan seemed to have the game in the bag but Moeen Ali had other ideas.
In yet another grandstand finish in this seven-match series, the hosts needed a last-over hero to stop the counterattacking England captain at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday night. Up stepped debutant Aamir Jamal.
Bowling a final over where England needed 15 runs to win, Aamir held his nerve despite being hit for six by Moeen off the third delivery to concede just nine to help Pakistan take a a crucial 3-2 lead with two matches to go.
A victory in Friday’s sixth match will see Pakistan clinch the series with a game to spare.
England would probably have been left wondering how they lost a game in which they had bowled out Pakistan for 145 after electing to field.
Mark Wood continued to trouble Pakistan and the England speedster had Pakistan on the ropes as he returned figures of 3-24 with only opener Mohammad Rizwan (63) offering some resistance.
Wood struck early to remove Pakistan skipper Babar Azam (nine), who was unable to negotiate a rising 150kph delivery and found Ben Duckett at deep square-leg.
Chris Woakes, playing his first game of the series, then came close to removing to Rizwan twice in the following over, the pugnacious wicket-keeper batsman surviving a review for a close lbw on the second ocassion.
Babar’s dismissal had offered Shan Masood a chance to bat early in the innings and he looked to have the answers to England’s short bowling when he pulled left-armer Sam Curran in front of square to mark the end of the fifth over.
Shan however fell in the next over after scoring seven runs when he miscued a scoop off David Willey and found Wood to leave Pakistan 43-2 at the end of the powerplay.
Wood returned in the eighth over to expose Pakistan’s brittle middle order when he tool a return catch to dismiss Haider Ali.
Iftikhar Ahmed flickered briefly in his innings of 15 before he attempted to cut Willey and found Dawid Malan on backward point.
Worse was to come for Pakistan when Wood had Asif Ali’s stumps rattled with a searing yorker before two suicidal run outs of Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan reduced them to 100-7 with six overs to go.
Pakistan’s hopes of a big total rested on Rizwan and he reached his half-century off 37 deliveries and lost another partner in debutant Aamir Jamal soon after.
Rizwan, who hit two sixes and three fours, had to go on the attack and was dismissed in the 18th over when he tried to go big against Sam Curran.
Tailender Haris Rauf hit a towering six to boost Pakistan’s hopes of a total above 150 and added 14 runs with Mohammad Wasim Jr, who hit a four before being the last man out.
The score didn’t seem enough at that time but the bowlers turned up to rouse a capacity crowd that had been left disappointed by the batting show.
Nawaz raised the roof — and Pakistan’s hopes — when the spinner had England opener Alex Hales caught at backward point in the first over.
Pakistan were celebrating again on the first ball of the third over when Haris had Hales’ opening partner Phil Salt caught at square leg for three.
It got better for Pakistan in the fifth when Duckett’s edge of Wasim went straight to Shan at third man.
Duckett could only score 10 and the visitors were in deep trouble when Shadab had the dangerous Harry Brook lbw on review to reduce England to 54-4 at the end of the ninth over.
Amid Pakistan’s bowling dominance, Dawid Malan had been a defiant presence but his 36-run knock came to an end when he was adjudged lbw off Iftikhar halfway through the 12th over.
England were well and truly staring into the abyss when Aamir, who was called up for the series after strong domestic performances, got his maiden T20 wicket on just the second delivery of his international career when Curran (17) found Wasim in the covers.
Pakistan were well and truly on top with England reeling at 88-6 with five overs to go but Moeen, who finished at 51 not out, reinvigorated his side’s hopes of snatching a victory.
Moeen hit his first boundary off Wasim in the 16th over and then smashed Haris for a six over square leg in the following over.
With England still needing 40 runs off the last three overs, Moeen smashed Wasim for a six and a four off successive deliveries in the 18th over to bring down the equation to 28 off the last two.
Moeen was looking unstoppable then hit Haris for a huge six over midwicket in the penultimate over. His partner Woakes followed with a boundary but was dismissed off the last ball of that over trying to go big.
It set up the stage for Aamir to shine and he obliged by not giving Moeen the opportunity to swing his arms at will to give Pakistan the victory.
The series might have shifted from Karachi to Lahore but the thrills continue.
Mohammad Rizwan c Rashid b Curran 63
Babar Azam c Duckett b Wood 9
Shan Masood c Wood b Willey 7
Haider Ali c&b Wood 4
Iftikhar Ahmed c Malan b Willey 15
Asif Ali b Wood 5
Mohammad Nawaz run out Moeen 0
Shadab Khan run out Curran 7
Aamir Jamal c Salt b Curran 10
Muhammad Wasim not out 6
Haris Rauf c Curran b Woakes 8
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-4, W-3) 11
TOTAL (all out, 19 overs) 145
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-17 (Babar), 2-42 (Shan), 3-51 (Haider), 4-81 (Iftikhar), 5-88 (Asif), 6-88 (Nawaz), 7-100 (Shadab), 8-118 (Aamir), 9-131 (Rizwan)
BOWLING: Woakes 4-0-30-1, Willey 3-0-23-2 (2w), Wood 4-0-20-3, Curran 4-0-23-2 (1w), Rashid 4-0-41-0
P. Salt c (Sub) b Haris 3
A. Hales c Shadab b Nawaz 1
D. Malan lbw Iftikhar 36
B. Duckett c Shan b Wasim 10
H. Brook lbw Shadab 4
Moeen Ali not out 51
S. Curran c Wasim b Aamir 17
C. Woakes c Iftikhar b Haris 10
D. Willey not out 1
EXTRAS (LB-3, W-4) 7
TOTAL (for seven wickets, 20 overs) 140
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-3 (Hales), 2-19 (Salt), 3-31 (Duckett), 4-54 (Brook), 5-62 (Malan), 6-85 (Curran), 7-131 (Woakes)
DID NOT BAT: Adil Rashid, M. Wood
BOWLING: Nawaz 2-0-9-1, Wasim 4-0-32-1 (2w) Haris 4-0-41-2 (1w), Shadab 4-0-25-1, Iftikhar 4-0-16-1, Aamir 2-0-14-1 (1w)
RESULT: Pakistan won by six runs.
SERIES: Pakistan lead the seven match series 3-2.
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Mohammad Rizwan
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022