Phil Salt drives England to an emphatic win, leveling a run with Pakistan

With that, this seesaw T20 series, the longest ever played between two international teams, has once again tilted. England won game six by eight wickets and 33 balls from time. This means that in three games each, everything is balanced. Sunday’s game will be decisive.

England’s highest order has finally clicked, just as the pill eventually lands on your lucky number as you keep spinning the roulette wheel. Phil Salt, who had hit 71 runs in his last eight T20 innings for England, splashed 88 runs across the Gaddafi Stadium on just 41 balls. It was a brilliant rapping, all vicious moves and sweeping cuts and blasted punches that bounced across the outfield so quickly that the chasing outfielders seemed to be moving like molasses by comparison.

It felt like England had doubled the ruthless approach that cost them here in the previous game as they lost the game and recorded a lower total than Pakistan’s 169 this time. Moeen Ali again won the draw and made the same decision to bring Pakistan into play. Ali was bitterly disappointed with the way his batsmen played last time out but he was very happy with them on Friday night.

Salt could have been caught on the first throw, but the ball just missed the point. He followed it up with four furious shots, three to the ground for four, the other over the fine leg for six. He was joined by Alex Hales, strapping Shahnawaz Dahani across the floor for six, then hitting three straight fours ahead of Mohammad Wasim. The two put up 50 runs combined in the first three overs of the innings before Hales was caught by the top edge.

Salt’s answer was to go harder. The fifth over went for 19, the seventh for 20 when Salt made his 50 from just 19 balls. Only Moeen and Liam Livingstone have ever done it faster for England.

At the other end, Dawid Malan shot 26 from 18 before going lbw out to a ball that dug across the floor. Salt might also have beaten Livingstone’s record for the fastest century for England if the next man in Ben Duckett hadn’t batted so well himself that he ended up scoring 26 of the 42 England needed when he got to the kink. In the end, Salt was content with scoring in singles, which must have been his idea of ​​adapting his approach to the game’s situation.

So Pakistan had to ponder the questionable wisdom of its decision to rest series’ leading runs scorer Mohammad Rizwan and leading wicket-taker Haris Rauf so they could bring in 21-year-old Mohammad Haris for his T20 debut, bringing Dahani return.

Babar Azam hit just five fours in his first 42 balls before crashing 36 runs of his last 17 deliveries.
Babar Azam hit just five fours in his first 42 balls before crashing 36 runs of his last 17 deliveries. Photo: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

England had made two changes of their own, with Richard Gleeson and Reece Topley being brought back into the team. Rizwan’s absence meant her batting relied on Babar Azam, who in turn relied on England’s bowling. He made 87, one less than Salt, but he took 59 balls. It was still a flawless inning, with just five fours in his first 42 balls, then a flurry of 36 from his last 17.

In the middle, Azam scored his 3,000. Run in international T20 cricket. He’s only the fifth man to do it, finishing faster than three of the other four. He went 81 innings, as did Virat Kohli. Azam pushed toward 4,000 by beating Gleeson, David Willey and Topley with sixes whose last over cost 19 runs.

Azam had some support from Iftikhar Ahmed, whose grey-haired looks and unlikely career have made him a cult hero. It helps that Iftikhar somehow managed to retain his spot on the team despite scoring just 150 points in all three formats in 44 innings and winning 12 wickets for Pakistan. But he showed a bit of what his team sees in him here, with a daring 31 balls from 21 including two massive sixes in front of Adil Rashid. The second of these, emerging somewhere in the middle of the Raja case, was the largest of the series at 106m. Then he got caught in the middle.

Rashid had his second bad match in a row. He threw four overs for 38, matching his numbers of four for 41 on Wednesday night, and not a single wicket under. England’s senior team will be hoping the problem is just that his floating leg spin isn’t as well-suited to the Lahore courts. Pakistan certainly made it a point to target him and with him being the only spinner on the side on both occasions, England were unable to control run rate in the middle part of both innings. It didn’t matter in the end while Salt hit like that.

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