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Shadab, Iftikhar, Aamir set thrilling six-run win

Lahore, 28 September 2022: Pakistan, for the second time in as many games, nullified the notion that the mantra to success in T20 cricket is to win the toss and chase. After edging England out by three runs in Karachi on Sunday, Babar Azam’s side on Wednesday defended their lowest score in Pakistan (145) in another thriller to go 3-2 up in the seven-match series at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium. 

Mohammad Nawaz was phenomenal with the new ball and derailed England’s run chase from its onset with the wicket of Alex Hales, who trying to swat the left-arm orthodox down the ground edged the ball into the hands of short third-man. 

Phil Salt picked up the only fielder guarding the leg-side boundary on the first ball of the fourth over when he flicked Haris Rauf to leave England at 19 for two. 

Mohammad Wasim Jnr bowled a brilliant fifth over, beating Dawid Malan four times by hitting the corridor of uncertainty and when Malan finally got off the strike with a thick edge on the fifth ball, Ben Duckett’s attempted cut ended into third-man’s hands. 

The introduction of spin further compounded problems for England. The pair of Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed bowled eight overs in tandem that allowed only 41 runs, but more importantly accounted for in-form Harry Brook and Malan. The overs seven till 10 allowed England only one boundary and Shadab, making his comeback into the side, got Brook LBW – when the on-field umpire’s decision was overturned through DRS. 

Iftikhar, after drinks, sent Malan back to the pavilion in a similar fashion. 

Shadab’s four overs allowed 25 runs, while Iftikhar gave away only 16 runs. 

That the match went till the final ball was because of Moeen Ali’s rearguard knock. The England captain scored 51 not out off 37 and took the game deep in the hope that he may target any weak link in the Pakistan bowling line-up. 

Debutant Aamir Jamal, who replaced Mohammad Hasnain, was given the task of defending 15 off six. The right-arm fast bowler was exceptional with his wide yorkers, sending down dots on his first two balls, and despite being dispatched for a six on the third legal delivery (the previous one being a wide outside off-stump), he made a terrific comeback to allow only a single – that off a penultimate ball. 

Pakistan had made two more changes with Haider Ali coming in for Khushdil Shah and Mohammad Wasim Jnr replacing Shahnawaz Dahani. 

Moeen, after calling correctly at the toss, decided to stick with the set template of winning the toss and opting to chase a total down as England made a plethora of changes that brought back Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Malan into the mix.  

Wood continued his brilliant return to international cricket – after a long elbow injury-induced layoff – as his sheer pace and intelligent lengths garnered him the key wickets of Babar Azam, Haider Ali and Asif Ali. 

Pakistan lost their captain – the hosts’ first wicket – in the third over as Babar pulled Wood into the hands of deep square-leg. Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood – with a 25-run partnership in 18 balls - looked on course to rebuild the innings and launch a counterattack but the latter, in his attempt to paddle David Willey over short fine-leg, edged the ball handing an easy catch to Duckett at backward point towards the end of the powerplay. 

Haider top-edged a pull for Wood to catch off his own bowling and four overs later Iftikhar followed him back to the pavilion, becoming Willey’s second and last wicket. 

Asif Ali was bowled off Wood in the next over, but Pakistan’s innings slid further into disarray in the 14th over as Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan were run out in the space of four balls that left Pakistan at a paltry 100 for seven. 

That Pakistan managed 145 was because of Rizwan’s gutsy half-century, his fourth in the series. The wicketkeeper – struggling to find a reliable partner at the other end - stayed at the crease till the 18th over and made 63 off 46 before his signature pick-up shot off Sam Curran landed in Adil Rashid’s hands. Like Willey, Sam also returned two for 23.  

Wasim and Haris struck a four and a six, respectively, in the penultimate over, bowled by Chris Woakes, that lifted the hosts to 145 before the right-armer accounted for Haris on the last ball as Pakistan were bowled out with an over to spare.  

Rizwan was named player of the match. 

Scores in brief: 

Pakistan 145 all out, 19 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 63; Mark Wood 3-20, David Willey 2-23, Sam Curran 2-23) 

England 139-7, 20 overs (Moeen Ali 51 not out, Dawid Malan 36; Haris Rauf 2-41) 

Player of the match – Mohammad Rizwan (Pakistan)