Pakistan narrowly defeated England by five runs to level the three-match T20 series 1-1 after an enthralling match-up between the two sides at Old Trafford.
Pakistan batted first, producing a steady innings, slowly building to 150 and accelerating in the final few overs to post a total of 191 for England to chase.
All-rounder Moeen Ali scored a quick 61 runs from 33 balls for England, who lost key wickets too easily throughout the evening, to set up a grandstand finish to the series in the final over.
Tom Curran needed to hit two sixes from the final two deliveries to win the game for England. The Surrey bowler smashed Haris Rauf’s second to last delivery over the cover boundary for six but Curran couldn’t produce the heroics as Rauf bowled a superb final delivery to win the game for Pakistan and level the series.
It was an excellent evening for Pakistan, who made a number of changes to the side who lost by five wickets to England on Sunday. Opener Fakhar Zaman’s wicket fell after just seven deliveries but his teammates went on to produce a fine batting display.
19-year-old Haider Ali, making his international T20 debut, and Mohammed Hafeez formed a sensational partnership in the middle order to put Pakistan in control.
Haider Ali played a wonderful range of shots to reach 54 from just 33 deliveries and he looked an accomplished batsman, despite his young age, and became the first-ever Pakistan debutant to score a half-century in the T20 format.
Mohammed Hafeez provided the experience alongside Haider, scoring a collected 86 and hitting six sixes during his 52-ball innings to produce a man of the match performance for the visitors.
Pakistan set England a target of 191 and the hosts started poorly with Jonny Bairstow falling for zero in the first over, while third in, Dawid Malan, went for just seven from 14 deliveries.
England’s bright spark in the first match, Tom Banton, looked assured once again and raced to 46 but his mix up with Eoin Morgan saw the England captain run out cheaply for 10. Banton quickly followed Morgan in the following over after he was caught on the pads from a full delivery from Rauf for LBW.
Ali looked to be England’s hero of the evening, scoring double figures for the first time in six matches, then accelerating to 50 and hitting spinner Wahab Riaz for three sixes in one over. He and Sam Billings scored a partnership of 56 before Billings lofted an easy catch to Imad Wasim at third man.
With just 17 runs needed to win from the final two overs, Ali played a poor shot straight into the air for Wahab to pluck for a caught and bowled with 12 deliveries left.
This set up a frantic finish with Adil Rashid and Tom Curran running for singles and doubles to slowly pick away at the target of 191. But it was too much for the duo who, despite a valiant effort, couldn’t chase Pakistan’s impressive total.
Speaking after his quickfire 61 and return to good form in this match, Mohammed Ali said: “It’s obviously disappointing to lose, but it’s nice to get some runs under my belt. The way I played today; I was pretty pleased with it.
“I had to try and shift my mental state before this game and try and play like it’s my first few games for England and try to be like that enthusiastic kid like I was when I first played and try to have the same preparation I used to have. I think I was going through the motions I guess, today was such a battle against myself mentally.”
Reflecting on the match, Pakistan captain Babar Azam praised his bowlers for finishing the match strongly.
He said:” Both teams played very good cricket and our bowlers bowled really well. Moeen was dangerous at the end but thankfully we got him out and got the job done. It was a good win for us.”
England returns to action this Friday, September 4, as they face Australia in the first of three T20 matches at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton. Three ODI fixtures between the teams are then scheduled between September 11 and September 16 at Old Trafford, Manchester.