Rashid Sets Stage Before Buttler and Salt Dominate Chase

Photo of Buttler and Salt dominace chase while Rachid set sets stage.

The match started under cloudy skies with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan giving Pakistan a steady start. They ended the powerplay with 59 runs, their second-highest score in the powerplay since January. However, England responded by taking five wickets for 27 runs around a brief rain break, led by Adil Rashid.

In contrast to their closely contested T20 World Cup final, the gap between the teams in this final T20I before the upcoming tournament is evident. England’s disciplined bowling and the powerful batting of openers Jos Buttler and Phil Salt resulted in a dominant 7-wicket victory with 27 balls remaining, securing a 2-0 series sweep.

Usman Khan’s aggressive 21-ball 38 provided some resistance, keeping Pakistan’s hopes for a competitive total alive. Nevertheless, Liam Livingstone’s spell in the middle overs, highlighted by Chris Jordan’s spectacular catch, saw Pakistan dismissed for 157.

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Despite concerns that the target might not be sufficient, England’s openers quickly quashed any doubts. Mohammad Amir and Naseem Shah were heavily punished, with England scoring 78 runs in the powerplay—their highest since 2022 against the same opposition in Lahore.

Haris Rauf‘s spirited spell brought some respectability with three wickets, but Harry Brook sealed the win with a six over cover, solidifying England’s dominance ahead of their World Cup defence.

Rashid initiates a collapse.

Despite Rizwan and Babar laying a strong foundation for Pakistan, the turning point arrived with the final delivery of the powerplay. Pakistan’s captain edged one to short third, where Rashid held onto a crucial catch. The opening duo had often faced criticism for slowing down after the powerplay, so Rashid’s removal of Rizwan in the subsequent over exposed the middle order.

Fakhar Zaman’s dismissal, caught by Rashid with sharp reflexes, underscored a period of Rashid’s dominance. He followed up by dismissing Shadab Khan on his first delivery, while Azam Khan fell to Mark Wood’s pace after facing just five balls. This signaled the beginning of his batting struggles.

Livingstone’s stellar bowling performance

Every time Livingstone was entrusted with the ball by Buttler, it seemed like an opportunity for Pakistan to capitalize with a big over. However, the spinner consistently maintained accuracy in his deliveries and strategically positioned fielders, thwarting the batsmen’s attempts to score freely.

Despite conceding 16 runs in his initial two overs, Livingstone turned the game around in the 15th over by bowling a double-wicket maiden. Pakistan’s leading run-scorer, Usman, was caught by Jordan, followed by Shaheen Afridi being dismissed. By the conclusion of Livingstone’s spell, Pakistan’s batting resistance had been effectively neutralized.

The onslaught persists

Given the reliability of the pitch, one would anticipate Pakistan’s pace quartet to maintain control over England, right? However, that wasn’t the scenario. Despite Shaheen and Naseem having a bit of tough luck by conceding 18 runs without reward in their initial two overs, what followed was a one-sided affair.

Despite the pitch favoring the batsmen, Buttler and Salt’s precise timing ensured effortless boundaries. Pakistan’s bowlers, feeling unsettled and pressured, struggled to maintain their line and relied on predictable pace. This made it all too easy for England’s openers to fully capitalize.

Azam’s challenging day

Azam’s difficulties began with a challenging short ball he couldn’t avoid, setting the tone for his tough outing. His standing as a middle-order batsman was further questioned by his struggles within the team, while his role as a wicketkeeper was also scrutinized.

Placed there primarily due to a lack of alternatives, he missed two straightforward chances off an otherwise impressive Rauf, displaying his embarrassment openly. When he finally managed to hold onto a routine catch, Rizwan offered a consolatory pat on the back. It’s probable that Rizwan will soon permanently reclaim the position.


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