A bewitching, twisting game, full of unpredictable turns and hitches, ended in a three-run victory for Pakistan. It was a match England lost, won and lost again in the space of 10 crazy minutes. At their start, they needed 33 runs from 18 balls to beat Pakistan’s 166, and were relying on Liam Dawson and Adil Rashid to do it against Mohammad Hasnain, who had already taken two for 16 with some wickedly quick bowling. They say heroes can be found in the most unlikely places, but outside of Dawson’s home village of Goatacre, there cannot have been many people watching who expected what happened next.
The National Stadium was awfully quiet now. A lot of the 30,000 people who had spent the evening screaming and cheering were already leaving because England needed only nine from the final 12 balls. Dawson scored four of them off the second ball of Haris Rauf’s over. Then the game turned again.
Rauf bounced Dawson, who was so amped up that he tried to pull the ball and was caught at short mid-wicket, a shot he replayed endlessly when he was back off the pitch. In came Olly Stone, with five needed, and then out he went again, bowled by his first delivery. Rauf’s hat-trick ball was a 96mph yorker which almost had Reece Topley lbw.
Mott was not. “It was a knife-edge game and we’ll draw plenty from it,” he said. “It was a fantastic opportunity to see how we handled ourselves under pressure and I thought we did a good job of it.” It did not look as if they would get so close. Pakistan’s total was built around another large opening stand from Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, who put on 97 together.
Of course it was glorious, full of artful cuts and glances, meaty drives and hefty pulls. While the two of them were together, England, who had brought in Stone for Mark Wood and David Willey for Sam Curran, looked pretty powerless to do anything about it.
The modest total receded into the distance when England’s top order collapsed in a heap. They were 14 for three after 12 deliveries and Harry Brook and Ben Duckett were back together again. Duckett, who continues to bat like a man who has spent three years waiting for his opportunity, began to claw England forwards with a flurry of fours off Wasim. Then Brook pressed on with Moeen Ali. They both hit glorious sixes off Mohammad Nawaz, but he got his revenge by bowling Ali as he charged down the wicket. Brook was caught at fine leg and in came Dawson, for the start of that extraordinary final few overs.
The series moves to Lahore with the scores tied two-all. England should get stronger as the week goes on, with Jos Buttler, Wood, and Chris Woakes all set to come back into the team. If Pakistan play like this again, they will need to be.
Source: The Guardian