Lahore : Tight spells from pace duo of David Willey and Sam Curran coupled with opener Phil Salt's ruthless assault on Pakistan bowlers powered England to a dominant eight-wicket win over Pakistan in the sixth T20I of seven-match series in Lahore on Saturday.
With this victory, England has made the series even at 3-3. In the first innings, Pakistan scored 169/6 in 20 overs. Skipper Babar Azam scored an unbeaten 87 off 59 balls, scoring more than half of his team's runs. Curran (2/26) was the pick of the bowlers for England.
Chasing 170, England got off to an explosive start, with openers Alex Hales and Salt (88* off 41 balls) helping their team in touching 50-run mark in less than four overs. Laters, Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett provided more than enough support to Salt, chasing down the in just 14.3 overs.
England's chase of 170 runs was marked by heavy hitting and attacking intent from ball one. Hales and Salt helped the visitors cross the fifty-run mark in just three overs. Pacer Shahnawaz Dahani was smashed by the duo for 22 runs in the second over, followed by Mohammad Wasim receiving a beatdown worth 17 runs as well.
In the fourth over, it was spinner Shadab Khan who produced a breakthrough for Pakistan. Hales was looking to sweep the ball but became a victim of extra bounce, which helped the ball reach into the hands of Dahani at short fine leg. Hales was back in the pavilion for 27 off just 12 balls and England was 55/1.
Dawid Malan was the next batter to join Salt. They both took England through the powerplay without any further loss of wicket. In six overs, England stood at 82/1, with Malan (9*) and Salt (45*) looking good out in the middle.
Aamer Jamal, the two-match old rookie was smacked around the park by Salt in the seventh over and he went for 20 runs. Salt brought up his second T20I half-century in just 19 balls.
Malan-Salt kept piling on runs, with the left-handed Malan anchoring the innings from the other end, giving freedom to Salt to hit his shots. The 73-run stand off 34 balls between the duo was broken by Shadab Khan, who got his second wicket of the match. Malan was trapped leg before wicket for 26 off 18 balls. England was 128/2 in 9.3 overs.
Ben Duckett was next on the crease. A new batter, but it did not change Pakistan's fate. Nothing was stopping Salt and Duckett also smashed some stylish boundaries. Another fifty-run stand was up in just 30 balls and England finished things at 170/2 in 14.3 overs. Duckett (26* off 16 balls) and Salt (88* off 41 balls, 13 fours and three sixes) helped England level this highly-entertaining series.
Shadab Khan (2/34) was the only one who could put a noteworthy performance as a bowler, while others were smashed all over the park and conceded more than 10 per over for the most part.
Earlier, put to bat first by England, Pakistan was off to a bad start. Pacers Richard Gleeson and Willey made a quick impact, dismissing wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris (7) and Shan Masood (0) to leave Pakistan at 15/2 in 3.2 overs.
Skipper Babar Azam and Haider Ali then rebuild Pakistan's innings, helping them make it through the powerplay without any damage. At the end of six overs, Pakistan was at 40/2, with Azam (25*) and Ali (7*) at the crease.
Azam-Ali looked to build a lengthy partnership, but it was cut short at 47-runs. Ali tried to smash Curran's delivery big, but found Duckett at cow corner. Ali was back for 18 off 27 balls, with Pakistan 3/62 in 8.4 overs.
Iftikhar Ahmed was the next batter on the crease. He and Azam helped Pakistan cross the 100-run mark in 13.3 overs.
The 48-run stand between the duo was broken in the 15th over. Curran got his second wicket of the match, dismissing Iftikhar for 31 off 21 balls after he was caught by Harry Brook at long-on.
Asif Ali was next up on the crease but gave away his wicket to Willey when he was at 9 while attempting an uppercut that found Reece Topley deep point. Half of the England team was back in the hut for 136/5.
Mohammad Nawaz was the next batter on the crease. The duo helped Pakistan cross the 150-run mark. A late flourish of sorts came in the final over, which saw them smash Topley for 19 runs. The bowler however got the last laugh on the final ball, dismissing Nawaz for 12 off 7 balls and stopping Pakistan at 169/6 in 20 overs.
Curran (2/26) and Willey (2/31) bowled brilliantly for the visitors, taking some crucial wickets. Topley and Gleeson also got one wicket each.
Salt's explosive knock earned him the 'Man of the Match' title.