LAHORE: Pakistan edged out England by five runs in the fifth encounter of the seven-match Twenty20 International series to take 3-2 lead here at near-to-capacity Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday night.
The late cameo of visiting team skipper Moeen Ali, who produced unbeaten 51 in 37 balls, went in vain as England could muster 149 runs for six in the allotted overs. Pakistan earlier crawled to 145 in 19 overs while floating on the heroics of Mohammad Rizwan. Later, the collective effort of Pakistan bowlers earned the home team victory in which debutant Aamer Jamal defended 15 runs in the final over.
Pakistan, after their batting glitches, enjoyed an incredible reversal of fortunes with back to back hits by their entire bowling attack. The visiting team taking the field pushed the hosts to the wall with their clever bowling that not only contained Pakistan but also jolted their batting with regular intervals.
Similarly, Pakistan then served England in the same fashion with their bowlers taking quick wickets of Alex Hales at three on the fifth ball, Phil Salt in the 4th over at the total score of 19, Ben Duckett in the 6th over at 31, Harry Brook in the 9th over at 54, Dawid Malan in the 12th overs at 62, Sam Curran in the 15th over at 85 for six and Chris Woakes (10) in the 19th over.
Malan, however, was the visiting team’s second highest scorer with 36 off 35 balls aided with four fours. Curran made 17 in 11 balls. Moeen Ali showed courage to complete the 7th half century of his career, second of the series, to develop interest till the final over while David Willey was the other not out English batter.
Apart from Haris Rauf, who had two wickets, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed and Aamer Jamal shared one scalp apiece. Rizwan remained the only Pakistan batter to come in between England bowlers’ impressive line and length and was the architect of nearly half the runs home side posted on board by his fall at 131 for nine. Mohammad Wasim Junior (six not out) and Haris Rauf five balls eight, with a six before, were sent back to the pavilion by Chris Woakes, took the score to 145 for all with one over to spare.
Rizwan, who reached the 20th T20 international half century and 4th of the series in 37 balls, by the close of his innings managed 63 runs to be the only Pakistan batter to resist England bowling with vigour. He faced 46 balls and also cracked two fours and three sixes.
When Pakistan entered into the third over of their innings, they lost their key campaigner and captain Babar Azam to Mark Wood. He pulled blindly to the deep square leg where Ben Duckett had a clean catch to make Babar walk off the field for a single figure score of nine and team’s 17.
Shan Masood and even Haider Ali also followed suit, falling prey to David Willey and Wood respectively. Both these batsmen also failed to break into double figures as Shan got seven and Haider four. As Shan had a leading edge as he tried to place the ball to leg and Wood took the catch while Haider was clean bowled to the pace of Wood.
When Pakistan’s hopes of knitting the score rested in the hands of Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed, the latter became the victim of Willey. Iftikhar, however, was the second batter after Rizwan to have reached the double figures making 15 runs.
Even the following batsman Asif Ali could not last long at the wicket and was the third victim of Wood when Pakistan were at 83 in the 12th over. Pakistan though had yet another blow when Mohammad Nawaz came in to join Rizwan, was run out for a duck, leaving the side in tatters at 88 for six.
Pakistan batsmen’s march back continued that included the run out of Shadab Khan for five while the hosts managed their 100 runs in the 14th over. But Rizwan stayed behind to give support to debutant Aamer Jamal.
Jamal, however, lasted at the crease for seven balls and got 10 runs before falling to Sam Curran. Wood, who was instrumental in sending five Pakistan players back, had three wickets while Willey got two. Wood had the catch of Shan and also played his part in the run out of Nawaz. Curran also chipped in with two wickets while Chris Woakes had one.
Earlier, England won the toss and elected to field first in the fifth T20 of the series. Pakistan had three changes after pacer Naseem Shah was ruled out from the match due to chest infection and was hospitalised on Tuesday night. Shadab came in place of Usman Qadir while uncapped Aamer Jamal made T20 cap debut.
The all-rounder received the T20I cap to be the 98th player to represent Pakistan in the shortest format. “It’s a great honour for me to represent my country,” said Jamal. While expressing his joy for getting a chance in the national team, Jamal said that he looked up to legendary pacer Wasim Akram as his ideal in cricket.
The sixth match of the series will be played at the same venue on Friday while the seventh and final on October 2.