WICKET! Billings c Imad b Wahab (England 126-5)
Billings top-edges high into the air, and as it comes back to earth Imad Wasim sets himself and takes a straightforward catch!
14th over: England 125-4 (Moeen 27, Billings 26) Shaheen Afridi returns, and Moeen smears his first through midwicket for four and lifts the second over extra cover for six! Moeen’s international innings in the last 12 months (all formats): 17*, 5, 39, 5*, 0, 1, 8, 1 and now 27*. It’s a ropey run alright, but this could be the end of it. Meanwhile, Shaheen’s over improves after its shaky start. Pakistan were 130-2 at this stage. England need 66 from 36.
13th over: England 112-4 (Moeen 16, Billings 24) Now Billings goes for a reverse. He gets nothing on it, but does enough to befuddle the keeper enough for England to end up with four anyway. Frustrating as it is for Pakistan to watch that ball run away, England’s run rate is running away as well. Eight from the over, they need 79 from 42.
12th over: England 104-4 (Moeen 16, Billings 20) Moeen hits high towards cow corner, but doesn’t get enough on it to reach the fielder out there, let alone clear him. He runs a couple. He ends the over with his first boundary, reverse-swept fine and handsome.
11th over: England 95-4 (Moeen 8, Billings 20) That’s good stuff from Billings, who lifts high and wide of long-on for a big six. The ball lands on a large advert for a popular airline which is covering a section of seating, rolls off its edge and then back underneath it again, forcing a couple of fielders to get on their hands and knees. Then Moeen fails to get a single, and in fact should have been dismissed, but Sarfaraz doesn’t collect cleanly and is very slow to spot the stumping chance, slow enough for Moeen to turn, pause, and still get his bat down. The next goes for one, obviously.
10th over: England 86-4 (Moeen 7, Billings 12) Moeen has faced seven deliveries and every one of them has brought a single. Billings again rescues the over for England with a boundary, tickling one past fine leg.
9th over: England 78-4 (Moeen 5, Billings 6) Shadab’s second over, and for five balls England seem happy to pick out gaps and fielders in the deep and take the easy singles. Then Billings rocks back and heaves the last to deep midwicket for four!
8th over: England 69-4 (Moeen 2, Billings 0) So much for stability. The loss of Morgan and Banton hurts England hard, and these have been a telling last 10 minutes from Pakistan.
WICKET! Banton lbw b Rauf 46 (England 69-4)
Three reds, none of them even close, and Pakistan make a significant breakthrough!
REVIEW! Is Banton out here? Pakistan think so!
The umpire didn’t, but Haris Rauf nearly blew a larynx with his appeal and they’re sending this upstairs.
7th over: England 65-3 (Banton 45, Moeen 0) The powerplay ends, Shadab starts, and for four deliveries Banton picks out a string of fielders. Morgan then smacks one towards the practise nets for six before the horrible mix-up that sends him back to the hutch! England now need a bit of stability, and Moeen Ali comes out to provide it.
WICKET! Morgan run out 10 (England 65-3)
Morgan hits to cover, wants a single, and is halfway down the track and completely stranded when Banton tells him he’s not so keen!
6th over: England 54-2 (Banton 42, Morgan 3) Wahab Riaz now, and Banton mistimes the first, misjudges the second and gets a couple off the third before finally taking the single that brings Morgan onto strike for the first time. At which point the umpire calls Wahab for running onto the pitch, and awards England another free hit. Morgan sends it high into the Manchester sky, and by the time it comes down they’ve run a couple. Another Banton boundary to fine from the last. Pakistan were 47-2 at this point.
5th over: England 43-2 (Banton 35, Morgan 0) Haris Rauf has a bowl, and Banton sends his first ball through the covers for a classic boundary and guides his fourth to long leg for four more. In between there’s a bit of a heart-in-mouth moment as both batsmen set off for a single but think better of it, and Morgan runs into Rauf as the bowler tries to field the ball. Rauf’s sixth is a wild beamer, which Banton deflects away from his chest to that long leg boundary, but the ensuing bonus free-hit goes for just one. Morgan hasn’t faced a ball yet and isn’t about to.
4th over: England 27-2 (Banton 20, Morgan 0) Shaheen is bowling so well that England have no choice but to go after Imad. Banton thwacks the first past long-on; Malan slaps the fourth through the covers, but still they want more. The next flies to Fakhar.
WICKET! Malan c Fakhar b Imad 7 (England 26-2)
Malan hoists this high into the air, and Fakhar at deep midwicket takes a fine high catch so close to the boundary that he has to look back to check his heel hasn’t landed on the rope!
3rd over: England 17-1 (Banton 14, Malan 3) Malan gets a thick leading edge, sending the ball high towards deep fine leg, who is too deep to get anywhere near it! It’s an excellent over from Shaheen, neither batsman can time anything, and they make do with a couple of singles.
2nd over: England 15-1 (Banton 13, Malan 2) An over of spin, courtesy of Imad Wasim, and Banton gets one past a diving cover for four, and reverse-lifts the next over backward point for four more. He reverse-sweeps again off the last but doesn’t quite nail it, the fielder dives forward to take the catch and the ball bounces just before him, over his hands and away for four more!
1st over: England 3-1 (Banton 1, Malan 2) Two slips in play as Shaheen gets things started, and he’s straight into his swing and indeed through Bairstow’s!
WICKET! Bairstow b Shaheen 0 (England 1-1)
A sublime yorker from Shahid Afridi lands on the foot of off stump, and Bairstow’s gone for nowt!
Out come the batsmen! Bairstow and Banton will lead the England charge. The home side have scored more than 190 in three of their last four T20 Internationals. Can they make it four out of five?
Cracking knock from Haider Ali, though. He doesn’t look remotely cowed by the hype that has been buzzing about him, hit a thrill-a-minute half-century and has still got 31 days of teenagerdom ahead of him.
Pakistan finish with 190, England need 191 to win!
20th over: Pakistan 190-4 (Hafeez 86, Imad 6) Hafeez, who has never scored more than 86 runs in a T20 innings, has a few goes at setting a new high mark. They go for one, two and one, but an Imad single gives him one final chance from the last ball of the innings. He needs three off it for a new PB, and he gets it past the man at mid-off, but it’s cut off at the rope and he gets only two! After Sunday’s goings-on, England will fancy their chances here.
19th over: Pakistan 181-4 (Hafeez 80, Imad 4) Hello! Jordan’s first delivery is an attempted yorker that is just a fraction overpitched, and Hafeez swings his bat and lifts it down the ground for six! It was as low as a full toss could be, and it took an exceptional shot to despatch it. The next is kind-of-dropped by Morgan, though it would have been an outrageous one-handed diving take, and after a drop Shadam loops to mid-off. It’s catching practise for Curran, but when Imad Wasim lifts the very next ball high in the air and in his direction he completely fluffs a straightforward catch!
WICKET! Shadab c Curran b Jordan 15 (Pakistan 177-4)
A slower yorker from Jordan, and Shadab lifts it straight to Curran at mid-off!
18th over: Pakistan 170-3 (Hafeez 73, Shadab 15) Saqib Mahmood returns, and five deliveries are hit towards cow corner/deep midwicket, where Sam Billings is kept very busy indeed snaffling the ball and restricting Pakistan to ones and twos. The other, though, is lifted by Shadam over his left shoulder to the long leg boundary!
17th over: Pakistan 159-3 (Hafeez 69, Shadab 8) Curran overpitches an attempted yorker and Hafeez lifts it over midwicket for a maximum! He’s hit five sixes now, and four of them have gone in exactly the same direction. It’s the first ball of the over and the last shot anyone middles, and every other ball goes for a single.
16th over: Pakistan 148-3 (Hafeez 60, Shadab 6) Gregory bowls a disastrous wide no ball, a rank leg-side full toss, but redeems himself with a decent slow ball, and the free hit brings a single. Hafeez then lifts one just over mid-off for four, and Shadab lifts the last to the deep backward point boundary. That’s Gregory’s last over, and it goes for 14.
15th over: Pakistan 134-3 (Hafeez 52, Shadab 1) Another good over from Jordan, but for that lbw brainfart. Four off it, and a wicket.
REVIEW! Jordan thinks he’s got another one! Erm, but he doesn’t!
Jordan goes up after another yorker hits something. The umpire doesn’t like it, Morgan does, and we all get to see a slow-motion replay of the ball hitting the middle of Shadab’s bat.
WICKET! Haider b Jordan 54 (Pakistan 132-3)
Got ‘im! Jordan bowls slow and full, and it goes under Haider’s bat on its way to uprooting off stump!
14th over: Pakistan 130-2 (Haider 53, Hafeez 50) Hafeez is at it again, advancing to hoist Rashid’s second legal delivery (after a leg-side wide) perfectly straight, down the ground for six! Then he sweeps to the square-leg boundary, where two fielders sprint towards it but neither can cut it off, for the four that takes him to 50! His last five ODI innings: 53*, 17, 67*, 69, 50* (and counting).
13th over: Pakistan 117-2 (Haider 53, Hafeez 38) After a good half-over Curran drops one a little short and Hafeez smears it over midwicket for another six, his third. The bowler ends with a perfectly-judged delivery that bounces full and pretty much exactly as wide as it could legally get, and gets a nod of approval from Haider.
12th over: Pakistan 104-2 (Haider 52, Hafeez 30) Hafeez finds Gregory a little harder to judge than Rashid, and throws his bat around a bit without timing anything. He gets a single, though, and Haider Ali pulls through midwicket for the boundary that brings up his half-century, off 28 balls. He is the first Pakistan batsman to score a half-century on his T20 debut, I’m told, and has got Sky’s Rob Key absolutely purring.
11th over: Pakistan 100-2 (Haider 45, Hafeez 29) Hafeez is hit in the pad, but only Bairstow bothers to appeal and a review is swiftly ruled out, which is just as well as the ball pitched just outside the line. Small margins, but big implications: a couple of balls later Hafeez thrashes one over midwicket for six, and then the next goes in the same direction but a little further! So far in fact that Mulan has to undertake something of a stadium tour to retrieve it.
10th over: Pakistan 84-2 (Haider 44, Hafeez 16) Haider lifts the ball towards cow corner, where Sam Billings is lurking. He comes in to snaffle the catch, realises he’s made a terrible mistake, backpedals wildly, launches himself into the air, and watches the ball sail over his outstretched hand, bounce once and clear the rope. This is sufficiently tough on Gregory, the poor bowler, that the umpires let him get away with a bouncer that flies miles away from Mo Hafeez and really should be called a wide.
9th over: Pakistan 77-2 (Haider 39, Hafeez 14) Time for Rashid, who is milked for a series of ones and twos and eventually a four, awarded after extended recourse to replays after Gregory’s valiant attempt to cut it off before it hit the rope was adjudged to have occurred after his own knee did so.
8th over: Pakistan 66-2 (Haider 32, Hafeez 9) Lewis Gregory comes on, and Haider sends his first delivery into the middle of next week, smashing it over midwicket, over deep midwicket, over even deeper midwicket and into the deepest and murkiest depths of really quite profound midwicket, which is somewhere out towards the car park. He is exceeding some pretty high expectations at the moment.
7th over: Pakistan 54-2 (Haider 24, Hafeez 7) Curran’s deliveries range in speed from 69mph to 85mph (well, there was one slow ball). It keeps the batsmen on their toes, though Hafeez pulls one over midwicket, an extremely handsome shot even if the ball landed six inches short of the rope.
6th over: Pakistan 47-2 (Haider 22, Hafeez 2) Haider tries to flog Jordan through midwicket, gets it wrong, and bottom-edges just past his stumps. He still gets four runs, mind, as he does by pulling the next to long leg. Ten off the last powerplay over.
5th over: Pakistan 37-2 (Haider 13, Hafeez 1) Good stuff from Tom Curran, who starts with a yorker, gets some help from the seam to dismiss Babar and throws in a slow bouncer. Then Haider Ali picks up a delivery that was only just short of yorker length and lifts it over midwicket for a lovely, last-ball four.
WICKET! Babar b Curran 21 (Pakistan 32-2)
Tom Curran gets one to skid on and take out middle and off stumps, and Babar Azam is out for an 18-ball 21!
4th over: Pakistan 32-1 (Babar 21, Haider 9) Jordan replaces Moeen. I have a particular soft spot for Jordan, since I phoned him one afternoon for a chat about something or other and it turned out he was in New Zealand, it was the middle of the night, and he was fast asleep. Somehow he failed to hold it against me, which shows a particularly forgiving nature. Anyway, a good first over from him here, five off it. Babar has faced the last 13 balls and will also face the next.
3rd over: Pakistan 27-1 (Babar 17, Haider 9) Three fours on the spin for Babar, one straight, the next through midwicket, and the third touched very fine beyond third man. The third shot was particularly lovely, but he gets a bit much on an attempt to repeat it and it goes to the fielder. Still, 15 off the over.
2nd over: Pakistan 12-1 (Babar 2, Haider 8) Haider Ali comes in, hits his first delivery for one and then smears his second over long-on for a huge six!
WICKET! Fakhar b Moeen 1 (Pakistan 2-1)
Fakhar Zaman’s hapless and very brief innings comes to an end as he completely misjudges Moeen’s first delivery and loses a couple of stumps!
1st over: Pakistan 2-0 (Babar 1, Fakhar 1) A fine opening over, which could have been better rewarded. Babar takes three balls to get off the mark, and then Fakhar very nearly chops his first ball into his stumps only for it to bounce wide of leg, and gets a leading edge to the second, which floats wide of the bowler. “If it really is dry (for Manchester) then we can expect to see wickets falling only when the batsmen make their own mistakes, rather than being winkled out,” suggests John Starbuck. “Not much of a prospect for the bowlers, so any successes ought to be worth double.”
The players are out! Saqib Mahmood has the ball in his hands. Let’s rock!
Here’s confirmation of Pakistan’s team changes:
Word is that Haider Ali is red hot, and I’m particularly looking forward to getting my first glimpse of him. There are already a few profiles of him online – here’s a handy link and telling quote:
Babar Azam admits that he too would have chosen to bowl. Pakistan make three changes, with Haider Ali, a big-hitting 19-year-old debutant, the wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed and Wahab Riaz coming in.
England win the toss and will chase
“It looks a little bit drier than the first game that we played but it still looks good,” declares Eoin Morgan, who picks an unchanged side. “There is no hiding place in T20 cricket, it can be brutal.”
After three Tests and two T20s, one rained out, Pakistan go into the last match of their tour in search of a first win, while Babar Azam – officially the world’s top-ranked T20 batsman, mind you – comes to terms with being described as “a lost cow” by Shoaib Akhtar in the wake of the record-bending defeat to England on Sunday. “He is out there, not knowing what to do,” blasted Akhtar of his compatriot’s captaincy in that game, which may well fire up the 25-year-old, unless of course he’s ignored it completely as the wild flailings of an ex-player desperate to drive traffic to his YouTube channel.
England meanwhile have the first game of a new series against Australia to look forward to on Friday and will look to go into it without a hangover either literal (it’s Dawid Malan’s 33rd birthday on Thursday, after all) or metaphorical. The birthday boy, who averages 54.60 across his 12 international ODI innings so far, is one of the players hoping to cement his place in the team with a big knock tonight.
There is a 2% chance of precipitation in Manchester this evening, while anything even tiptoeing towards the neighbourhood of vaguely approaching Sunday’s wild pyrotechnics (394 runs in 39.1 overs at 1.68 runs a ball) will do very nicely, thankyou.
Anyway, and most importantly, hello everybody, and welcome!