Pakistan lost second match of the three-match T20 series against England by three runs at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday despite Shahid Afridi’s stunning late assault of 24 from eight balls after taking three for 15 with the ball.
With 18 balls left of the match, it appeared England were certain of victory: Pakistan, with six wickets down, required 47 to win and the new batsman Shahid Afridi had only reached double-figures once in his last seven T20I innings.
Although the powers might be waning, Afridi remained a dangerous player. Inspired by a full house audience, he thrashed Chris Woakes for three sixes – one of them off a no-ball – in five deliveries to revive his side’s hopes. However the Pakistan side surrendered after nail-biter in front of a huge crowd who were gunning for Pakistan’s victory.
The game sprang into action after Afridi played some typically lusty shots out of the park.
Chasing a stiff target of 173 — that could have been the highest-ever chase in T20s in the UAE — the opening pair of Ahmed Shehzad (28) and Rafatullah Mohamand (23) added 51 runs in five overs to give the partisan crowd a real hope of a stunning chase.
Unfortunately though, the start was thrown away by some inept batting by the middle-order. Boom Boom Afridi brought his team back in contention with a scintillating eight-ball 24-run assault that brought Pakistan with in a striking distance. Afridi’s knock included three sixes of one Chris Woakes over but he fell on the last ball of the same over.
Sarfraz Ahmed made 20 runs off 13 balls that included a lucky over-throw boundary that was deflected off his bat as he dived to make his ground in an attempt for a quick second run.
Pakistan needed 11 off the last over, which came down to four off the last ball. Anwar Ali who was on strike failed to connect sending thousands into stunned silence. England went into frenzied celebrations as they recorded an impressive win over their Asian rivals.
Earlier, England have set Pakistan a stiff 173-run target in the second T20 being played at the Dubai International Stadium.
Batting first after winning the toss for the second consecutive time, the tourists posted a score of 172 for 8 in their allotted 20 overs.
After a drab performance both with the bat and the ball, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi made a superb comeback in the second T20I bowling a superb spell of four overs giving away only 15 runs and bagging three wickets to peg back England. He also became the leading wicket-taker in T20s with his performance in today’s match surpassing off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Afridi dispatched for 33 runs in his four overs in the opening game of the series struck with his first ball today sending back Alex Hales for 11. Jason Roy also fell to Afridi’s nagging line and length; he was snaffled behind the stumps by Sarfraz Ahmed after a contribution of 29 runs.
James Vince who propelled England’s innings with a 41-run knock in the first game, played a crucial 38-run innings off 24 balls to set-up the imposing total, he was also dismissed by Afridi.
Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanvir had forgettable spells with the ball as England surpassed their 160-run effort in the first game, the two left-armers had combined figures of two for 87 from their eight overs.
Pakistan made two changes to their eleven, the duo of Shoaib Malik and Ahmed Shehzad recovered from their injury and illness respectively to take the field in the must-win game for the hosts.
England rested their captain Eoin Morgan, bringing in wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler as the man in charge for the game today. Buttler scored a quick-fire 33 off only 22 balls.
Afridi: I want to congratulate England. This is very fast cricket. We should raise our fielding standard and our fitness standards. I just missed the chance to end the game for Pakistan. We have sometime before World Twenty20 so we need to work on our weak areas. I always say my performance is very important for the team.
Jos Buttler: Its a bit more stressful being a captain. We didn’t win as fluently as we would have liked. Plunkett, Parry and Rashid bowled really well. For Woakes to come back for the last over after getting a beating from Afridi says a lot about him. It took me a little while to get me going today in batting. The combination is coming together nicely.
Man of the match Liam Plunkett: I tries to bowl some cutters and bowled it in the block hole and it did the trick for us.