The finale of the seven-match Twenty20 International series against an England team visiting Pakistan for the first time in 17 years turned out to be a damp squib. Even without many of their star players, England gave a spirited performance against Pakistan in our own backyard to win the series 4-3. It seemed that the tourists led by stand-in captain Moeen Ali were saving their best for last. In the series decider on Sunday evening, England amassed 209-3 after being put into bat by Pakistan thanks to an unbeaten 47-ball 78 by Dawid Malan and 46 not out by Harry Brook. To win the series, Pakistan needed a record run-chase but they were never in the hunt after losing star openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan early in their innings. Chris Woakes took three wickets as Pakistan just managed 142-8, allowing England to win the final game of the series by a massive 67 runs.
The decider was a disappointing end to an otherwise pulsating series that saw fortunes fluctuate with each game. Pakistan continued to show that they are a mercurial side with results like a stunning ten-wicket triumph in Karachi and the meek surrender in the final game of the series in Lahore. England, on the other hand, punched above their weight. They were without some of their key players including skipper Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone. But the trio of Harry Brook, Ben Duckett and Phil Salt rose to the occasion as they enabled the visitors to win a morale-boosting series ahead of the T20 World Cup which gets underway in Australia later this month. It was England's first series win in T20 Internationals since July 2021 and the result should boost their confidence going into the World Cup.
Pakistan, meanwhile, have a lot of questions to answer. They had their moments in the series but the bottom line was they were outgunned by a second string England team – and that too at home. Pakistan's batting line-up seems incapable of chasing big totals most of the time. Questions are being asked about the wisdom of persisting with misfiring players like Khushdil Shah. Their players' fitness levels do not seem to be up to the mark. From pace ace Shaheen Afridi to vice captain Shadab Khan, there have been too many injury worries in the recent past. The clock is ticking for Pakistan. Pakistan will face old rivals India in their T20 World Cup opener in Melbourne on October 23. Before that, Pakistan will have a few games in a tri-series in New Zealand involving the Kiwis and Bangladesh and then a couple of World Cup warm-up games in Brisbane. They will need to quickly cover their bases otherwise Pakistan will have little hope of winning back the T20 World Cup for the first time since their title-winning triumph in 2009 in England. A word to Pakistani spectators though: no matter the disappointment, bullying and hackling must never be part of a sport.