Having won the last ODI of the series, Pakistan went into the lone T20 against England at Old Trafford in Manchester on a high of sorts. And they displayed their skills to great effect to seal an impressive win in the one-off T20 match. Their bowlers first came up with an excellent effort to restrict England to 135. Then Pakistan’s batsmen also came to the party, as the visitors eased to victory with too much trouble. As for England, they failed to get enough runs on the board. As a result, their bowlers could not put any pressure on Pakistan in the chase.
The story of the match was Wahab Riaz’s comeback after being thrashed for 110 in the third match of the one-day series. He did not show any after-effects of that terrible performance. Instead, he ran in hard, and kept the England bowlers on their toes throughout. He got the two big scalps of Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan, either of whom could have singlehandedly taken England to a match-winning score. He also added the wicket of David Willey towards the end to finish with excellent figures of 3 for 18, clearly the match-defining effort.
Imad Wasim came up with the other crucial bowling effort as far as Pakistan were concerned. Opening the bowling, he sent back both the dangerous England openers, Jason Roy and Alex Hales. The duo had gotten the hosts off to a confident start, so Wasim’s strikes were crucial as it aided Pakistan in snatching the momentum back from England. He was excellent, just like Riaz, to finish with wonderful figures of 2 for 17. Hasan Ali ensured that the momentum stayed with Pakistan claiming the scalps of Joe Root and Ben Stokes. Pakistan’s bowling in the second half was particularly brilliant as they kept the boundaries at bay.
After the bowlers did their job, Pakistan’s openers also excelled in their chase. Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif did not look in any pressure at all, as there wasn’t a big score to be taken down. Still, to their credit, both the openers did not throw their hands away, and starred in a fruitful 107-run stand in 11.1 overs that put the visitors on the path of victory. Both the openers had excellent strike rates of 163 and 140 respectively, and had Khan not been dismissed a 10-wicket victory was on the cards.
England clearly suffered because they did not have enough runs on the board. Roy and Hales got starts but failed to carry on. Still, they had laid the foundation with a 56-run opening stand. The middle order however could not capitialise on the same as Root, Morgan, Buttler and Stokes all fell cheaply. There was really nothing much the England bowlers could do after the batsmen had failed in their duty. Still, had they got early wickets things could have been tighter. But, that wasn’t to be the case at Old Trafford.
--By A Cricket Analyst