While pursuing a target of 191 in the final T20I against Pakistan at Old Trafford, England would have banked on their formidable batting unit to overhaul the total. However, in what turned out to be a game where the fortunes of both sides swung back and forth, Pakistan held their nerves to clinch a five-run victory and level the three-match series 1-1.
Mohammad Hafeez (86*) and Haider Ali (54) made crucial contributions with the bat while Wahab Riaz bowled incisively in the death overs.
Wahab Riaz and impressive comeback
The veteran paceman, who replaced the injured Mohammad Amir, bowled a game-changing spell in the slog overs. With Moeen Ali cracking a flurry of shots, Pakistan needed a spark of inspiration. Riaz was the bowler who stepped up by dismissing Moeen with a banged in delivery in the 19th over. In the same over, he also effected a direct-hit to run out Chris Jordan.
A few jitters in the Pakistan camp
The hosts required 17 off the final over with just two wickets in hand. It came down to 12 off two balls. At that juncture, Tom Curran lofted Haris Rauf over extra cover to give the opposition a few jitters. However, the next ball, Rauf nailed the yorker and Curran couldn’t get it away.
Moeen reigns supreme
The all-rounder found some form and raised hopes of England overhauling the target. Moeen arrived at the crease with the home team in trouble at 65 for 3. He then proceeded to play with flourish. The way Moeen clubbed Shadab Khan for three sixes in the 16th over just capsulised his fearless batting. Unfortunately for the home team, he couldn’t take the side past the finishing line.
When Hafeez made his international debut in 2003, Haider was just over two years old. Some 17 years later, the duo combined together to share an alliance of 100 for the third wicket to provide the platform for the tourists.
Haider, who made his T20I debut, showed his class and quality when he launched Moeen for a six over long-on while facing just his second ball in international cricket. He also showcased power-hitting by tonking Lewis Gregory over deep square-leg. On the other hand, Hafeez took a severe toll off Adil Rashid, thwacking him for three sixes and a boundary. Even after Haider was castled by Jordan, Hafeez continued to play with freedom in the slog overs.
Brief scores: Pakistan 190/4 in 20 overs (Hafeez 86*, Haider 54; Chris Jordan 2-29) beat England 185/8 in 20 overs (Moeen Ali 61; Wahab Riaz 2-26) by five runs.