Pakistan finish tour with special T20 win
It was fitting that Pakistan, a team who never play at in their own country anymore, felt like the home side with a huge and vocal crowd largely backing the visitors who played brilliantly to win the final game of their tour by nine wickets.
The openers blasted Pakistan to the brink of a victory that was set up by an intelligent bowling display.
Pakistan did well to restrict England to just 135 for 7 from their 20 overs, bowling with great guile to make the most of the big boundaries at Old Trafford and make it hard for the batsmen to score quickly.
England got off to a flying start with Alex Hales and Jason Roy making the most of the hard new ball. The pair put on 56 runs in just 6.4 overs before Roy tried one too many reverse shots and was trapped leg before by Imad Wasim for 21.
Wasim whipped out Hales as well not too long after, the spinner yorked him as the opener swiped across the line and the ball clattered into the woodwork.
The Pakistan bowlers used their variations well and kept England guessing and the pitch played along, it was a little slower than it usually is in Manchester.
The English struggled to get the ball away and the middle-order failed to match the scoring rate of the openers. Joe Root went cheaply for six before Jos Buttler struck a few heavy blows but he found a boundary rider with a lofted cover drive and had to go for 16.
Ben Stokes (4), Eoin Morgan (14) and David Willey (12) all fell trying to push the rate up and England would only manage 135 with Moeen Ali unbeaten on 13 and Liam Plunkett surviving but failing to score off the three balls he faced.
Wahab Riaz finished as the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/18 but Imad Wasim (2/17) and Hasan Ali (3/24) backed him up brilliantly well.
It almost felt like a home game for Pakistan when their bowlers got on top and the visitors’ fans blowing horns, turning Old Trafford into a noisy cauldron.
The atmosphere carried over into the Pakistan innings.
The England bowlers tried to replicate Pakistan’s but got it wrong and Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif spanked the quicks around with the evening dew helping the ball skid on.
The Pakistan openers smacked 63 runs off the first five overs, with Stokes first T20I over since he bowled in the World T20 final going for 16 including a beautiful flick off the hip by Sharjeel for six.
When the powerplay ended in the sixth over Pakistan had reached 73 without loss and though England could then spread the field, the pressure was off the batsmen.
Sharjeel reached his fifty in style, smashing Adil Rashid for a huge six over midwicket.
The openers brought the hundred up in the tenth over and Pakistan were well and truly cruising at this point.
Ali had Latif caught in the 11th over unfortunately for the spinner the catch was taken by a young fan several rows back in the stands, in the 12th over though Ali hung onto a skied ball from the bat of Sharjeel (59) as Rashid finally got a breakthrough with Pakistan on 107.
Latif would emulate Sharjeel in bringing up his fifty with a huge six over long on off the bowling of Ali.
Latif finished the match 59 not out and Babar Azam was unbeaten on 15.
Pakistan end their tour on a high winning the only T20I by nine wickets with 31 balls to spare.
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