MANCHESTER          -        Eoin Morgan and Dawid Malan both hit half-centuries, putting on 112 runs together for the third wicket, as England chased down 196 to win and go 1-0 up with one match to play in the series.

Pakistan got off to a good start after being put in to bat first, as Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam put on their side’s first fifty opening stand in T20Is since 2018. Fakhar eventually fell in the ninth over for 36, with Adil Rashid picking up the wicket. Rashid struck again a few overs later to remove Babar too, though not before the Pakistan captain had brought up his 14th T20I half-century. Mohammad Hafeez ensured the start was not wasted however, as he smoked a 36-ball 69, including four sixes, before he fell with just one ball left in the visitors’ innings. 

England also got off to an excellent start, as Tom Banton and Jonny Bairstow took on the Pakistan bowlers during the Powerplay. They had taken the score to 65/0 at the end of six overs, but Shadab Khan removed the pair with consecutive deliveries, leaving Morgan and Malan with a lot of work still to do. Morgan got going relatively quickly though, slog sweeping his seventh ball over the rope for six off Shadab, hitting the same bowler back over his head for four later in the same over. 

Pakistan struggled to build any pressure, particularly after Mohammad Amir went off injured after bowling just two overs, and only twice during Malan and Morgan’s 10.2 over partnership did the bowlers manage to bowl consecutive dot balls. Morgan finally fell for a 33-ball 66, holing out on the leg side, and Moeen Ali fell to a tame shot five balls later to leave England needing 14 runs from the final 14 balls, though with Malan still at the crease.

It was new man Sam Billings who released the pressure though, hitting Haris Rauf for back-to-back fours in the penultimate over to bring the scores level, before guiding a shot off the back foot to point. Dawid Malan pierced the infield to collect a boundary off the first ball of the 20th over to get England over the line, finishing on 54* from 36 balls. 

England now lead the series 1-0 with the final T20I to be played between the two sides at the same venue today (Tuesday). England have won each of their last five T20I series – including one-offs – and, after winning the previous match against Pakistan, they have a chance to continue that run. It’s been over two years since England lost a T20I series and they appear primed to add to their winning streak. 

With the first match having been washed out, Pakistan, the current No.4-ranked side in the ICC T20I Team Rankings, will look to find ways to counter the potent England batting order in a bid to level the series. They may consider bringing in Wahab Riaz, whose experience and ability to bowl pace variations, might come in handy. If they decided to give Shaheen Afridi, who has played each game on the tour so far, a rest, the 20-year-old Mohammad Hasnain might also be an option to consider. 

England’s bowling was unable to make a breakthrough early in Pakistan’s innings in the second T20I, and David Willey, with his ability to swing the new ball, might be in the reckoning for the third T20I. While the first T20I had to be abandoned mid-way due to rain, the second was played under mostly clear skies and the forecast looks promising for the series finale as well. Another run-fest might be on the cards in Manchester. The temperature would likely be 18 degrees Celcius while there is only three per cent chance of precipitation. 

PAKISTAN (Probables): Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, M Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, M Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Haris Rauf. 

ENGLAND (Probables): Jonny Bairstow (wk), Tom Banton, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood.

Scorecard

PAKISTAN: 

Babar Azam c Billings b Rashid 56

Fakhar Zaman c Banton b Rashid 36

M Hafeez c Morgan b Curran 69

Shoaib Malik c Morgan b Jordan 14

Iftikhar Ahmed not out 8

Shadab Khan not out 0

EXTRAS: (lb 6, nb 2, w 4) 12

TOTAL: (4 wkts, 20 overs) 195

FOW: 1-72, 2-112, 3-162, 4-194

BOWLING: S Mahmood 4-0-38-0, MM Ali 1-0-10-0, CJ Jordan 4-0-41-1, TK Curran 4-0-46-1, AU Rashid 4-0-32-2, L Gregory 3-0-22-0. 

ENGLAND:

T Banton lbw b Shadab 20

J Bairstow c Imad b Shadab 44

D Malan not out 54

E Morgan c sub b Haris 66

M Ali c Babar b Shadab 1

S Billings c Fakhar b Haris 10

L Gregory not out 0

EXTRAS: (lb 1, nb 1, w 2) 4

TOTAL: (5 wkts, 19.1 overs) 199

FOW: 1-66, 2-66, 3-178, 4-182, 5-195

BOWLING: Imad Wasim 3-0-30-0, Shaheen Shah Afridi 3.1-0-44-0, M Amir2-0-25-0, Shadab Khan 4-0-34-3, Iftikhar Ahmed 3-0-31-0, Haris Rauf 4-0-34-2. 

TOSS: England

UMPIRES: Martin Saggers, David Millns

TV UMPIRE: Mike Burns

MATCH REFEREE: Wayne Noon