Pakistan tour of England 2020; England vs Pakistan 2nd T20I; England 199 for 5 (Morgan 66, Malan 54*) beat Pakistan 195 for 4 (Hafeez 69, Azam 56) by five wickets
As the two captains went out to toss for the second T20I on Sunday, what seemed fairly certain was that the English weather, though notoriously fickle, won’t rain misery on another game of cricket.
On another belter of a track at the Emirates Old Trafford, England skipper Eoin Morgan raised not a few eyebrows when he called it right at the toss but decided to play a good host in asking Pakistan to bat first.
The decision seemed to backfire on England as skipper Babar Azam and fellow opening partner Fakhar Zaman got Pakistan off to a flier. With the surface not offering any assistance, the English bowlers, especially the pacemen, were picked off rather comfortably by the openers.
Boundaries came thick and fast and the Pakistan scorecard rattled along as Babar and Fakhar laid into the English bowlers. Their partnership blossomed and Pakistan raced to 72 when Fakhar fell skying a catch to Tom Banton off leg-spinner Adil Rashid. He scored a swashbuckling 36 off 22 balls, laced with five fours and one six.
However, the wicket failed to stem the Pakistan run flow as Babar, in the company of veteran Mohammad Hafeez, continued with the uninhibited approach and scored freely.
The Pakistan skipper brought up his fifty at less than a run-a-ball and looked to be in the mood for many more when he was caught by Sam Billings off Rashid. He scored a typically fluent 56 off 44 balls, with seven hits to the fence.
Shoaib Malik, another experienced campaigner, joined Hafeez at the fall of Babar’s wicket. With Pakistan well placed at 112/2 at the time, all that was required was for the experienced pair to maintain a healthy scoring rate and ensure their team closed the innings on a high.
Though not a spring chicken any more, Hafeez rolled back the years with a feisty knock, smacking the bowlers to all parts of the ground. His buccaneering 69 off 36 balls provided the tail-end flourish to the innings and helped Pakistan finish at 195.
He finally perished, lobbing a catch to skipper Morgan off the bowling of all-rounder Tom Curran.
A T20 specialist these days, Malik couldn’t do much damage with the willow as he was sent back cheaply by Chris Jordan.
Rashid was the best bowler on view for England, finishing with 2/32.
With 195 on the board, Pakistan would have fancied defending the target. However, England had other plans as their openers, especially Jonny Bairstow, came out swinging.
England had screamed past 60 in the seventh hour when two quick wickets, that of Bairstow and young Tom Banton, threatened to derail their chase. While the former struck four boundaries and two sixes in a 24-ball 44, the latter struggled to get going and eventually fell for 20 off 16 balls.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who was used sparingly in the first Test and ignored in the remaining two, was in amongst the wickets again as he sent back both the openers.
However, just when England seemed to falter in the chase, out came Morgan and, in the company of another southpaw Dawid Malan, put their team firmly on the road to victory. Striking at 200, the England skipper flayed the Pakistan attack as all hopes of a comeback by the rivals evaporated under the hot Old Trafford sun. While the skipper blasted 66 off 33 balls, with six fours and four sixes, Malan gave him able company with a strokeful half-century.
Morgan eventually fell to young tearaway Haris Rauf, with England within touching distance of the target. While Moeen Ali followed the skipper back to the pavilion for 1, Billings looked to finish off Pakistan before he was caught by Fakhar off Rauf. He scored 10 off 5 balls, striking two boundaries.
Malan eventually closed out the win, finishing unbeaten on 54 off 36 balls.
With England taking a 1-0 lead and only one more game left to play, Pakistan’s only hope is to salvage some pride by squaring the series.