LAHORE: After an utterly dominant victory against Pakistan that saw them level the series at 3-3, England’s Phil Salt vowed there would be no let up from his side going into the seventh and final T20 International at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.
It was an explosive unbeaten 88 from Salt, who’d flattered to deceive in the earlier matches, which saw England reach the 170-run target on Friday night with more than five overs to spare and the wicket-keeper batter said they wanted to keep Pakistan on the back foot in the series-deciding fixture.
“As a team, we know what we do well and no rethinking is necessary on that front,” Salt told reporters at a news conference after his man-of-the-match performance.
“We have a template of sorts, it’s just about being smarter, choosing the high percentage shots that we haven’t done in the last couple of games. We want to remain on the front foot and put the other teams on backfoot.”
Salt and his opening partner Alex Hales provided England the ideal platform to build their chase with the duo bringing up 50 runs after just three overs.
It came after England had failed to chase scores of 166 and 145 in the previous two matches of the series.
“We knew it was a good wicket, we knew we wanted to get the best start possible,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I play aggressively and I want to win as many games as I can when I am wearing the England shirt.”
Such was England’s dominance that Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who scored an unbeaten 87 on Friday, admitted his side had been completely outplayed and the absences of key pacers Naseem Shah — out due to Covid-19 — and the rested Haris Rauf were sorely felt.
Babar was also without vice-captain and opening partner Mohammad Rizwan due to fitness issues and Pakistan’s middle-order was again found wanting even though Iftikhar Ahmed got a brisk 31.
But it was the quick dismissals of opener Mohammad Haris — in for Rizwan — and Shan Masood that Babar felt prevented Pakistan from getting a bigger score.
“Keeping in view how the pitch was playing and we lost back to back wickets, a total of 169 was looking good,” Babar rued at the end of the match. “The middle order has to step up and build partnerships.”
Middle order batter Haider Ali was hospitalised after the match on Friday although the Pakistan Cricket Board said that he had joined the team hotel on Saturday after undergoing a “complete medical check-up”.
A spokesperson of the PCB added that both Haider and Naseem will travel with the squad on Monday for their tri-nation series in New Zealand ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia, which begins from Oct 22.
Before that, though, Pakistan will hope to try and sign off on a winning note against England and their bowlers have a job on their hands to hit back on Sunday.
“We didn’t do a lot wrong and it was just great batting,” Pakistan’s bowling coach Shaun Tait told reporters on Friday. “They tried to hit every ball for a boundary and in some way, it caught our bowlers off guard. They just attacked us.”
On Friday’s showing, quelling that attack would be key if Pakistan are to win the series.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022