By AYYAZ MALIK
England secured a 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan after winning a thrilling final match in the super over.
The tourists who have already clinched the three-game series would have been looking to complete the ‘clean sweep’ as they look to prop up the T20 rankings which is headed by Asian side, Sri Lanka.
After winning the toss for the third time in a row this series, The Three Lions batted for the third time in a row.
In the previous two matches after suffering batting collapses, England have come back and made decent totals which turned out to be match-winning totals in the end.
This match was no different, Pakistan who gave a debut to all-rounder to all-rounder Anwar Yamin were rewarded with that decision as he got a wicket with the fist ball of the match.
England needed to rebuild and rebuild they did admirably until Joe Root was bowled by Shahid Afridi. At that stage, England looked to be in a reasonable position, but when Moeen Ali fell for a duck and captain Eoin Morgan fell for 15, the tourists were wobbling like they had been in other games.
The usually reliable Joss Buttler and Sam Billings both fell cheaply, which further strengthened the hosts’ grip of the game. In other matches when England have been in trouble, players like Sam Billings have played an innings which helped their side get out of trouble.
This match the same was to happen. All-rounder Chris Woakes who boasts of a very respectable batting average in the County Championship with Warwickshire teamed up with James Vince as the pair put on 60 for the seventh wicket.
When Woakes was out, England were on the verge of the 150 mark, the tourists would have taken such a score considering the position they were in.
England did get their score to 150 but lost James Vince right near the end after he was caught by Umar Akmal off the bowling of Sohail Tanvir.
Pakistan who knew they were playing for pride after being outplayed in the first two games got their run chase off to a nightmare start. England all-rounder David Willey was one of the reasons for the bad start for the hosts.
Willey who will be joining Yorkshire next season accounted for Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammed Rafatullah in his first over. To add to the pressure Pakistan were already under, Mohammed Hafeez conspired to run himself out yet again.
Pakistan were indebted to the recalled Mohammed Rizwan who did at least stick around for a little bit, but when he came the fourth wicket to fall, the hosts looked to be doomed for a humiliating defeat.
The dismissal of Umar Akmal only added the pressure on Pakistan, but when the experienced duo of Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi put on 63 for the sixth wicket, the home side’s supporters dared to believe that their team could win.
With just 26 runs needed to win, disaster struck for Pakistan as Shahid Afridi was out with a ‘strangle’ down the leg side. With Shoaib Malik still there at the other end, Pakistan were still clinging on to the hope of a consolation win.
The target for Pakistan after all the drama was 10 from the last over. When Sohail Tanvir launched Chris Woakes for a six, the win for Pakistan seemed all but confirmed.
For those who are fans of the Pakistan cricket team, would know that they like to do things the hard way and that’s what happened here. A few singles a dot ball in the final over and the dismissal of Malik with one ball to go made things even tighter.
Just to add to the suspense, a scrambled single by Pakistan lead to the match being tied, which meant a super over. The super over is football’s equivalent of sudden on a penalty shoot out.
The equation was simple, both teams go out to bat and the team that makes the highest runs in the one-off over wins. Pakistan started things off in the super over and could only make three runs in their over, which was never going to be enough.
The key to that low total was the brilliant bowling of Chris Jordan who brilliantly fired yorkers into the Pakistani batsmen, which made scoring near to impossible.
England after brilliantly restricting their opponents, didn’t need to do anything rash in their run chase. The run chase over was bowled by Shahid Afridi and despite the Pakistan captain doing well to restrict the England batsmen, the hosts poor showing in their over would cost them dearly.
A brave effort by Pakistan, but unfortunately for them this is the second close game they lost within a week. As for England, they can look to approach their upcoming tour of South Africa tour with optimism after winning both one-day and T20 series.