LAHORE: Gritty Phil Salt batted courageously to steer England to a comfortable eight wickets win in the sixth game of the seven-match T20I series here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday night.
Chasing a decent Pakistan score of 169 for six, England eased to 170 for two wickets in 14.3 overs, with 33 balls to spare to have a magnificent fight back in the series after they were 2-3 behind due to their previous match defeat.
Pakistan and England will now enter into the final of the seven-match series on October 2 (Sunday) after having pocketed three games each.
Salt remained not out at 87 that came in 41 balls as he timed 13 fours and three sixes. He was supported by Ben Duckett with an unbeaten 26 (16 balls).
Visiting team openers Phil Salt and Alex Hales made mockery of Pakistan attack with an 18-ball 50. They hammered eight fours and two sixes in the first three overs with just three dot balls bowled each by Mohammad Nawaz, Shahnawaz Dhani and Mohammad Wasim.
However at England’s 55, Pakistan got the first breakthrough when Shadab Khan’s bowled an extra bounce got a top edge from Hales then at 27 (12b 4x4 1x6) to Dhani at short fine leg. His opening partner Salt a few over later produced the third fastest half century in 19 balls by an English man in T20 cricket.
England too developed one of the quickest hundred in the shortest format in 36 minutes while they had 50 runs for the second wicket too between Salt and Dawid Malan, then England was at 102 for one. Pakistan’s second success came also through Shadab when he trapped Malan leg before for 26 in 18 balls, laced with five fours.
Skipper Babar Azam, in the absence of fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan who was rested, led the way once again with a majestic unbeaten 87 in 59 balls with the help of seven fours and three sixes. Iftikhar Ahmed gave useful hand to Babar in the middle, helping add 48, while Haider Ali and Mohammad Nawaz also came up handy.
Despite England’s infliction of early blows, Pakistan managed to maintain the solid run-rate with Babar cracking second half century of the series. Babar’s fifty came just at the time his side needed the most in the absence of their inform batter Rizwan. As Pakistan managed their 100 for four in the 13th over, Babar also unfolded his T20 career’s 27th half ton but not before witnessing his fellow batter playing folly of themselves.
Opener and debutant Mohammad Haris in an attempt to place the ball delivered by Richard Gleeson to fine leg ended up giving Adil Rashid catching practice for his just seven runs and Pakistan was one down for 14. Soonafter, the team green fell short of another two wickets of -- Shan Masood and Haider Ali.
Shan became the victim of David Willey for a duck as he was trapped LBW while Haider, who did produce some willful shots one of which crossed the ropes and one went above it in his 18, later failed to clear the fence only to find Ben Duckett running in to show him the way out.
At 62 for three, Babar with Iftikhar took the score to 110 before the latter was sent packing by Sam Curran after an addition of useful 31. Asif Ali, who joined Babar at the crease, faced only nine balls for his nine. And when Pakistan had 136 on board, Willey reduced them to five taking Asif’s wicket but Babar kept testing England bowlers nerves.
Babar then joined by Nawaz added 33 runs for the sixth wicket that included 19 runs off the last over including two sixes and a four. Nawaz, who hit one of those two sixes on the fifth ball, while in an attempt for another big hit gave a catch at long on boundary to Harry Brook off Reece Topley.
Willley and Curran shared two wickets each while Topley and Gleeson had one apiece.
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