England lead three-match series 1-0
That wasn’t quite as comfortable for England as it should have been; some lusty lower-order hitting from Tanvir, Wahab and Anwar rescued Pakistan from an embarrassing thrashing after their middle order imploded quite spectacularly.
For the tourists, Jordan was expensive and the top-order failed, but they can be pleased with the contributions of those who came into the side from the fringes: Vince, Billings, Parry and Plunkett.
The series continues in no time at all: same time tomorrow right here (well, there) in Dubai. Do join me for that. In the meantime, cheers for reading. Bye!
Pakistan 146; England win by 14 runs
Imran Khan has a big wild swing outside off and gets a thin edge through to Buttler for 0.
19.5 overs Pakistan 146-9 (Tanvir 25, Imran Khan 0) 16 to win Chipped down the ground and Moeen fields it on the bounce at long off. They take the single.
19.4 overs Pakistan 145-9 (Tanvir 24, Imran Khan 0) 16 to win A good yorker drilled down the ground and Tanvir declines to take the run.
Wicket! Wahab c Moeen b Topley 20
19.3 overs Pakistan 145-9 (Tanvir 24) 16 to win Hit hard and straight, but he hasn’t got enough on it and it’s down the throat of Moeen in the deep. That should be that.
19.2 overs Pakistan 145-8 (Tanvir 24, Wahab 20) 16 to win Full outside off again and smacked over mid off for four.
19.1 overs Pakistan 141-8 (Tanvir 24, Wahab 16) 20 to win Full outside off, play and a miss. Billings appeals for a catch behind but it was nowhere near the edge.
19th over: Pakistan 141-8 (Tanvir 24, Wahab 16) Target 161 Chris Jordan again – his last over disappeared for 14 and England could do without him putting pressure on Reese Topley with a repeat. A trio of bang-on-the-money yorkers are just what are needed – just one run conceded from them – then Wahab slashes a half volley hard through backward point for four. Two boundaries on the spin as Jordan offers up a full-toss and a thick edge flies down to third man. One from the last ball and Pakistan need 20 from the final over. Let’s go ball-by-ball.
18th over: Pakistan 131-8 (Tanvir 23, Wahab 8) Target 161 Topley has two overs left, so on he comes. Pakistan need another 40 – they’re only three runs behind England on the “at this stage” comparison, but that’s as meaningless a stat as ever considering they’ve lost four more wickets. Tanvir smashes six more with a lovely pick up over cow corner, then Topley sends a wide down leg. He comes back well though: a slower ball and a yorker yielding consecutive dots. A mistimed release gives up another dot, outside off this time, then the last ball is dug out for a single. 30 needed from the last two.
17th over: Pakistan 121-8 (Tanvir 16, Wahab 7) Target 161 Plunkett again and Wahab turns him off the knees and very fine for four. England are going to leave themselves with Adil Rashid bowling the final over with 15 runs to defend, aren’t they? Plunkett comes round the wicket for the left-handed Tanvir and has the batsman diving for the ground with a very sharp, fast, well-directed bouncer. A leg bye and a single from the final two balls and that’s a fantastic effort from Plunkett: four overs, 19 dot balls, three wickets for just 21.
16th over: Pakistan 114-8 (Tanvir 16, Wahab 1) Target 161 Jordan is back on and he begins with one in the slot, which Tanvir drives uppishly and hard, back down the ground for a straight four. The next one is a length ball and Tanvir slogs hard to mid on for four more. Billings pulls off another excellent stop next up when Tanvir gloves down the leg side, saving four with a good diving stop, but then Jordan fires an enormous wide across the left-hander and outside off. Back-to-back wides as Jordan strays down leg, then Tanvir slices a big slog high in the air, but it drops just short of Hales charging in from the mid off boundary; he and Morgan both hesitated as they converged on the ball. A well-run single through to the keeper then Tanvir tries to tee off again, just clearing mid off and getting two. 14 from a good over that keeps hope flickering.
15th over: Pakistan 100-8 (Tanvir 5, Wahab 0) Target 161 Plunkett is back on for Moeen, who finished with one for 30 from his four overs; I assume Morgan wants the paceman to finish this off given that Rashid hasn’t had a look in. Anwar is looking to go after England’s quickest bowler here but can only get it squirting away for singles; he looks to mow a yorker into the leg side, bottom edges between his own leg and Billings adjusts quite brilliantly to make the diving stop. An inelegant uppercut that drops short of third man brings two runs and the Pakistan hundred. That’s his final contribution though as Plunkett ends the over with the wicket.
Wicket! Anwar c Morgan b Plunkett 20
Anwar steps back but Plunkett follows him and does the batsman for pace. His back foot drive loops up high and drops from the night sky into the safe hands of extra cover.
14th over: Pakistan 95-7 (Tanvir 4, Anwar 16) Target 161 Anwar has shown us before that he can swing a bat and does so here, smashing a fuller ball from Parry back over the bowler’s head for a lovely six. England won’t mind too much as this game is already just about done. That was preceded by a two and succeeded by a pair of singles, then Anwar does some damage to the final figures with a second six of the over, over long on. Still, two for 33 is decent enough from Parry.
13th over: Pakistan 79-7 (Tanvir 3, Anwar 1) Target 161 If you refresh the page, our Pictures Editor Steve Bloor has stuck a screengrab of that run-out in the wicket entry; I strongly recommend having a look for yourself. Tanvir replaces Maqsood after a very nice bit of teamwork between Moeen and Billings removes the latter, then Morgan is very close to getting rid of the new man: Tanvir went for the reverse sweep and got a top-edge, with the ball just flicking the England captain’s fingertips as he dived desperately towards leg slip.
Wicket! Maqsood st Billings b Moeen 24
This is lovely. Maqsood gives Moeen the charge, the bowler sees him coming and fires it down the leg side. Billings completes the formalities with no fuss.
12th over: Pakistan 74-6 (Maqsood 24, Anwar 0) Target 161 What a shot this is: Parry is fractionally short but Akmal is back in his crease in a flash, before depositing it over midwicket for six. Of course, that moment of brilliance is inevitably followed by the comedy run out and Pakistan are back in trouble. Here comes Shahid Afridi to inspire pointless nostalgia for things he hasn’t done in years from the commentators... for two balls. Honest to god he got out the moment I finished writing that sentence.
Wicket! Afridi c Roy b Parry 0
Another lovely flighted delivery and Afridi pushes it softly to cover.
Wicket! Akmal run out 19
Maqsood got his bat down fractionally ahead of Akmal. That was hilarious.
Most Pakistan wicket ever
Akmal slogs into the on side and sets off. Maqsood sets off too, but turns back halfway down. Akmal does not turn back and the throw comes in to the non-striker’s end. We’re now looking at slow-mo replays of two bats being grounded at the same end to decide who is out.
11th over: Pakistan 68-4 (Maqsood 24, Akmal 13) Target 161 Maqsood slaps it back past Ali in the air, but it’s too wide for the bowler and down to long off for one. Akmal then plays an absolutely gorgeous late cut, against the spin and down to fine third man for four. These two are just settling Pakistan now after that early collapse. The boundary aside, the batsmen just spend the rest of the over milking Ali for four singles.
10th over: Pakistan 60-4 (Maqsood 22, Akmal 7) Target 161 A bottom edge from Akmal sends the ball squirting through the keeper’s legs, but it’s cut off by a fielder and they only get one. Parry, who has been giving it a lot of flight and no pace at all, to the powerful Maqsood now, but the batsman is watchful and just punches him into the off side for a single. Four from an excellent over for England.
9th over: Pakistan 56-4 (Maqsood 21, Akmal 4) Target 161 Maqsood comes down the pitch and doesn’t quite get hold of his attempted clump towards cow corner, but he hits it hard enough to squirt the ball out to midwicket for two. His footwork is very good against the spinner and he looks to smash it again, but can only find Jordan and run two more. Realsing that Jordan isn’t 50ft tall, he goes for the same region but high and sailing over the rope for Pakistan’s first six of the match.
8th over: Pakistan 45-4 (Maqsood 11, Akmal 3) Target 161 Steve Parry, whose last name Bumble insists on pronouncing “Perry” as though he’s the singer from Journey, is on to make it spin from both ends. Slightly odd situation this: England going with three spinners and Pakistan just the one. A single, a two, another single and then Rizwan is done all ends up in the flight by the left-armer. Umar Akmal is the new man, off the mark with a cover drive for two and a single from the final ball.
Wicket! Rizwan b Parry 6
This is a lovely ball. It’s slower and pitched on leg stump; the batsman gives it the charge and the ball turns past his outside edge to hit middle.
7th over: Pakistan 38-3 (Maqsood 8, Rizwan 5) Target 161 Time for some spin from Moeen Ali. Maqsood gets a single so comfortable that the batsmen can afford to get confused and stop in the middle of the pitch without endangering themselves. Rizwan then gets a much-needed boundary, using his feet well to get down the track and drive through extra cover for his first four runs. One of the last makes six off the over.
Dear required run-rate: welcome to NearlyTenTown. Population: you.
6th over: Pakistan 32-3 (Maqsood 7, Rizwan 0) Target 161 I know England were in a very similar situation at 19-3, but history and instinct tell me this is going to be harder for Pakistan to fight their way back into, especially with Hafeez gone. A really loose swing from Rafatullah sees him back in the hutch. Sohaib Maqsood is the new batsman and he shows how to pull straight away: on to the front foot, rolling his wrists and hammering it out to deep midwicket where Topley can only palm it into the rope. A well-run – I know! – two follows before a tuck to long leg for one ends the over.
Wicket! Rafatullah c Billings b Plunkett 16
Plunkett strikes straight away! It’s another shorter ball, the veteran debutant backs away, looks to pull and sends a thick top edge through to Billings.
5th over: Pakistan 25-2 (Rafatullah 16, Rizwan 0) Target 161 Enter Mohammad Rizwan as Topley changes ends. Rafatullah uses the left-armer’s angle nicely, running a cut down to deep backward point and getting through for a surprisingly spritely two. He pulls the next ball through midwicket for the same before an easy single brings Rizwan on strike. Nowt on offer from the two balls he faces though.
Robert Wilson is back and points us in the direction of this piece he wrote a few days ago.
4th over: Pakistan 20-2 (Rafatullah 11, Rizwan 0) Target 161 An early change as Plunkett comes on. He too starts the over with three dots, then Roy very nearly removes Rafatullah as the 39-year-old goes for a sharp single to backward point – the throw just off target with the batsman short. A couple of balls later Hafeez picks up a short one and lifts it out to deep midwicket for two, but he gets out repeating the shot next ball.
More on fruit, from Robert Darby: “I have also just eaten a piece of tropical fruit that answers to Robert Wilson’s description, that is, it is big, round(ish), orange in colour and tastes of not very much. My fruit is a paw paw, also known as papaya, and I only buy them because they are cheap.” I do like papaya you know.
Ian Magilton asks if it’s a persimon.
Wicket! Hafeez c Topley b Plunkett 7
A bumper from Plunkett and Hafeez picks it up, hooks and picks out deep square leg. Two quick wickets caught in the deep? How very Pakistan.
3rd over: Pakistan 17-1 (Rafatullah 10, Hafeez 5) Target 161 Jordan continues and continues well, opening the over with three dots on the spin and drawing a play-and-miss from the third with a slower one outside off. Hafeez flips a straighter one round to square leg for a single then Rafatullah gets himself in all kinds of a tangle, charging at a slower bouncer, misreading the pace and stopping his bat dead mid-hook to just block the ball into the ground. A wide, then Hafeez gets his first boundary with a lovely clip off his ankles when Jordan gives him a half-volley with the extra ball.
2nd over: Pakistan 10-1 (Rafatullah 9, Hafeez 0) Target 161 Topley is the man to share opening bowling duties. Sarfraz gets off the mark straight away, dabbing one that was slanted across his body to backward point for one. Rafatullah emulates the shot and the ensuing number of runs before Sarfraz goes next ball. Out strides Mohammad Hafeez. Rafatullah slices a big carving drive up and over cover for a couple more. Ugly and unconvincing, but T20 is hardly an aesthetic game.
Robert Wilson responds: “Aw thanks, mate. Phew. I was bricking it.” Perhaps you did eat something dodgy then. Denis Warren reckons you’ve eaten a sharon fruit, which is apparently a thing.
Wicket! Sarfraz c Plunkett b Topley 1
Sarfraz looks to slog-sweep into next week, but his top edge is perfectly judged by Plunkett out at deep midwicket.
1st over: Pakistan 6-0 (Rafatullah 6, Sarfraz 0) Target 161 Jordan opens up with a short one that has Rafatullah swaying out the way. His second delivery is aborted mid-stride as a distraction appears in front of the sight-screen; “Oh she’s forgiven” says Rameez Raja when it emerges that said distraction is a very pretty blonde girl. A swing and a miss from Rafatullah but then he gets his first runs in international cricket when he top edges an attempted late cut up and over the slips, down to third man for four. Another top edge next, from a hard cut this time, and Billings can’t cling on high above his head. It was tough, but that’s a drop as well as a couple more runs.
“Dear Dan,” begins Robert Wilson. “This mightn’t seem hugely germane but you could save a life here. I’ve just realised that England’s T20 shirt is precisely the same colour as the disconcertingly large piece of exotic fruit I just ate. I haven’t the foggiest notion of what it actually was. And now I’m getting a little worried. It was big, round and tasted exactly like nothing at all. But that shirt-colour is a dead ringer. Does anyone know know what it might have been, this funny fruit? Am I going to be...alright?”
Was it an orange, Robert?
Here we go. The players are out.
We’re about to get our first look at 39-year-old debutant Rafatullah Mohmand. Earlier on, Campbell Ogilvie wrote: “Bit of trivia for you. If you haven’t already been advised, the 39yr old Pakistani debutant played for Clifton in the Derbyshire County League for 3 seasons (2008, 2009 and 2011).”
A decent effort in the end from England, considering they were 19-3 in the fourth over. Billings and Vince were the standout performers on a wicket that wasn’t the easiest to bat on. If I had to back either side from here it’d be England, but not with any great certainty against the world’s No2 ranked side.
Pakistan need 161 to win
An excellent final over means this is a very chaseable target for Pakistan. Of course if any team is going to blow it going for a chaseable target...
Join me in 10 minutes or so for the chase.
End of innings England 160-5
20th over: England 160-5 (Morgan 45) Full and wide to begin with from Tanvir and Morgan chops it down to third man well for a single. Billings then digs out a good yorker, down the ground for a single of his own that brings up his half century. Morgan mistimes a hook when Tanvir drops short, but the ball drops safely away from the fielders and they get one more. Billings gets a top edge next, trying to slog sweep, and the ball sails miles over the keeper’s head and down to third man, where Wahab chases and reels it in well to save a run. Morgan pings the penultimate ball, a full one, down the ground for two more to take England to 160, then Billings is run out for 53 trying to run a bye to the keeper from the final ball.
19th over: England 152-4 (Billings 49, Morgan 41) Four more for Billings off Wahab, going across and scooping it down to the fine leg fence. Remember when we used to think of those shots as audacious? Now everyone thinks they’re AB de Villiers. He goes again next ball and this time gets it quite magnificently over the rope for six! A full toss outside off and a slow bouncer mean back-to-back dots and a good comeback from Wahab, before Billings pulls to mid on for a couple to bring up the 150. Two more from the final ball, punched out to deep cover. Morgan will have the strike at the start of the final over.
18th over: England 138-4 (Billings 35, Morgan 41) In case you were wondering, Anwar finished with one for 19 from his four overs. Imran Khan is the next man to complete his allotment and his first of the over, a slow bouncer, is pulled hard over midwicket and away for four by Billings. Back to back boundaries as he picks another slower one, advancing and pumping it down to long on. A third slower ball on the spin and Billings absolutely murders it, using his bottom hand to send it sailing over midwicket for six more! 14 from the first three balls, but the fourth – a full toss – is fielded by the man down the ground and they only get two. A slower ball nudged out to mid off brings one more, then Morgan takes two from the last.
In fairness to Dan, he wrote this before this over went for 19. 0-41 for him from his four.
17th over: England 119-4 (Billings 18, Morgan 39) Anwar returns for his final over and immediately sees Morgan dropped badly by Imran Khan at backward point when the England captain spoons a mistimed cut straight into his outstretched hands. Instead, England get a single. A hard sweep out to midwicket is well cut off, meaning Billings only gets two, before they scamper another quick single. Morgan miscues for the second time in the over, toe-ending it over mid off, but the man in the deep loses sight of the ball and doesn’t get anywhere near enough to attempt the catch. Anwar is, you’ll be surprised to hear, not impressed. Six from the over in the end, all in ones and a two.
“Ahem. All records set/milestones achieved by Paul Collingwood definitely “count”. In fact, they count double,” reckons Marie Meyers, not unreasonably.
16th over: England 113-4 (Billings 14, Morgan 37) Tanvir is back, what with Wahab presumably wanted for one of the last two overs. He gets a thick outside edge as Billings looks to smash his second ball over mid off, but the ball flies a foot or so over backward point and the batsmen get two. The next one is fuller and straighter, so Billings – who once followed me on Twitter then immediately unfollowed me, the git – steps across and scoops it over his shoulder and down to fine leg for four. The batsmen takes a single apiece, then Billings shows off his outstanding wrist speed to change his placement mid-shot and lift it over mid on for four more. England could still get 150 here.
15th over: England 101-4 (Billings 3, Morgan 36) Back into the attack comes Imran Khan (the third one) with Wahab having well and truly applied the brakes in that last over. Still, that was a delightfully breezy knock from Vince on debut – his 41 is the second-highest by an England batsman on T20 debut. The only one to beat it is Paul Collingwood’s 46 against Australia in 2005 and that doesn’t really count, what with it being England’s first ever T20 international. Six singles from this fuss-free over.
14th over: England 95-4 (Morgan 33) You have to say England played Afridi, the second highest wicket-taker in international T20 cricket, magnificently. Wahab Riaz, whom I probably should have mentioned came back on for the 12th over, continues – he’s recovered quite excellently from that poor first over and cuts Morgan in half with a quicker delivery. It had Sarfraz appealing for the inside edge behind the stumps, but no one else was interested given the daylight between bat and ball. Understandable really. Morgan gets a single, the first run of the over, from the fifth ball, then Vince is bowled!
Wicket! Vince b Wahab 41
Big wicket! It’s a fast one on a good length. Vince swings, misses and Wahab hits the top of middle and off.
13th over: England 94-3 (Vince 41, Morgan 32) Cap’n Afridi is going to bowl through. A leg bye from the first ball as Roy plays around a straight one and I’m surprised there’s no shout, even if it was probably going down leg. That gives Morgan the strike and he comes down the wicket and smashes a huge shot, lifting it over mid on and deep into the second tier! Another single to Morgan and Roy feathers a lovely sweep past short fine leg and away for another four. A slap to long off brings one more and a cut to point means they finish the over with another single. Afridi finishes with 4-0-33-0.
12th over: England 80-3 (Vince 36, Morgan 24) Roy looks to smash a short one to Sharjah but doesn’t get hold of it; fortunately for him, it drops well short of the fielder coming in from mid on. An excellent over as England can’t get their timing right and pick up just the three singles.
11th over: England 77-3 (Vince 34, Morgan 23) Morgan brings up the 50 partnership, nutmegging the keeper with the finest of bottom edges off a reverse sweep. Four. They run a couple more singles, then Afridi gets his release all wrong and gives Vince a big juicy full toss, which the Hampshire man swings dismissively through mid on for another four. England are suddenly back on track.
10th over: England 67-3 (Vince 29, Morgan 18) Another slower one from Imran Khan and Vince goes for the slog-sweep; it doesn’t quite come out the middle but he’s a strong lad and gets enough on it to just about clear the midwicket rope and get the first six of the match. An exchange of singles, a wide, then Roy tries to cut one that keeps low and is too close to the body in any case, missing out. He punches the fifth ball to long off for one more, then Morgan does the same and England have unobtrusively picked up 11 from that over.
9th over: England 56-3 (Vince 21, Morgan 16) Four more for Vince, absolutely nailing a smashed cut off the back foot and through cover when Afridi drops short. Two balls later the reverse sweep is out for the first time, from Morgan, but he can only bottom edge it into his own pads. A punch through mid off brings two more from the final ball.
8th over: England 49-3 (Vince 16, Morgan 14) Wahab’s expensive over sees him dropped from the attack and replaced by Imran Khan. He’s full of variations, with a range of slower balls that call to mind a less objectionable Jade Dernbach. Morgan gets four by hooking a slow bouncer round the corner to long leg and seeing it spin away from the fielder in the deep. He then goes charging down the wicket to another slow one but, having misread it, is forced into the meekest of forward defensives.
“Glad that Vince is in up the order (unlike some of the pre-match projections of him in at 6),” writes Dominic Gillan. “He’s been brilliant batting basically the full innings for Hampshire quite a few times. Looking for a big partnership with Eoin lad.” Indeed he is an opener for Hampshire and is effectively playing as one here.
7th over: England 43-3 (Vince 15, Morgan 9) Time for Northamptonshire legend Shahid Afridi; weirdly, he’s the only full-time spinner in the Pakistan XI. He’ll be tough to get away, I imagine, with his quick top-spinners sticking in the pitch a bit. Just a single, to Morgan, from the first four balls, but then Vince misses out when Afridi drags one down a bit too short – only a single from the pull shot though. Morgan gets a third single to complete the over.
6th over: England 40-3 (Vince 14, Morgan 7) A change: left-arm seam for left-arm seam as Wahab Riaz comes on for a bowl. His first delivery is too short and too wide outside off, and Morgan hammers a cut through cover point. The England captain is a lucky man next up though as he toe-ends a pull just eight inches or so over the man stumbling backwards at mid on. The batsmen jog a single then Vince clips an excellent pull to long leg for four more. Couple more singles then Vince backs off and fires a fine shot along the ground through mid off and to the boundary in a flash. 15 from the over.
5th over: England 25-3 (Vince 5, Morgan 1) It looks like that run for Roy in the last over has actually been given as leg-byes, so if you refresh the page it’ll correct. Again. Anwar is into his third over and why not? He has one for seven from his first couple and another wicket here would come pretty close to ruining the England innings. Vince actually gets off the mark this time, flipping a short ball through square leg on the pull but seeing it fielded nicely on the bounce to keep the batsmen to one. Morgan works another single to midwicket to get off the mark himself before Vince charges at a straight one and misses completely with an attempted swish over mid off. He does connect with the final ball, standing tall, walking towards it and slapping it past the diving fielder, through extra cover for four.
4th over: England 19-3 (Vince 0, Morgan 0) Vince is off the mark with a scrambled single, taken after yet another leading edge while trying to work it to leg. The batsmen need to play straighter on this slightly two-paced pitch. As if to prove my point, Moeen has a big mow, trying to spank it through cover, and connects with naught but Dubai air. He middles a similar shot a couple of balls later, but picks out the fielder to give up a third early, easy catch. Out comes the England captain who, despite having bumped himself down the order, is in the middle much earlier than he would have expected.
Wicket! Moeen c Akmal b Tanvir 0
Moeen goes for a pretty damn poor duck. It’s full, outside off and simply spanked straight to the man at cover, who takes a sharp catch at chest height.
3rd over: England 18-2 (Vince 0, Moeen 0) The new man is James Vince on debut. He’ll watch from the non-striker’s end to begin with, as Hales mishits an attempted straight slog, toe-ending it high in the air and seeing it plug beyond the fielder at mid on. Two runs, but there will be no more as he gets another leading edge – his third mistimed shot by my reckoning – and goes. England are in, if not trouble then certainly bother, with two batsmen on 0 at the crease. It was the scrambled seam that did for Hales, good bowling from Anwar. Moeen is the (new) new man and calmly sees out the rest of the over.
Wicket! Hales c Afridi b Anwar 8
Hales looks to turn it into the on side but gets a leading edge and the ball loops comfortably to mid off.
2nd over: England 16-1 (Vince 0, Hales 6) Time for the first of the three left-arm seamers in the Pakistan side: Sohail Tanvir. His first ball is, frankly, miserable, slung miles down leg for a wide. Roy clips the first legitimate delivery square for one. It gets worse for Tanvir, when Hales chips it back to him, he palms the ball up in the air to give himself a dolly but then drops it badly after juggling! The next ball is back of a length and, inevitably, smacked on the pull through mid on for the first four of the day. Another single, then Roy stands, delivers and smacks a slower length ball over mid off for four more. The final ball brings the wicket though, making it an eventful over: a wide, 11 runs, a comedy drop and a wicket.
Wicket! Roy c Imran Khan b Tanvir 9
Back of a length and Roy looks to swat it over mid on. It gets a top edge and flies limply to the man on the edge of the circle.
Refresh the page please. I fired that last entry off one ball too early. Sorry.
1st over: England 5-0 (Roy 4, Hales 1) Here we go then, Anwar Ali opening the bowling for Pakistan. He’s a bit of a rarity in this XI: a right-armer (there are three lefties). Jason Roy, who looked in very good touch in the warm-up against the UAE takes strike and miscues his first ball, a slower one that he was looking to smash through extra cover. He’s off the mark second ball though, pushing nicely past mid on and sprinting three. Hales as a crack at cutting his first ball and misses out, swinging and missing at a nice lifter that moves away just a touch off the seam. Anwar tries, and fails, to throw down the stumps next ball with the batsman out of his crease, then the fifth one is worked square off the pads for a single. Same goes for the final ball, which happened after I’d already finished this entry because I miscounted the number of ball.
Another thing to note: the Imran Khan playing today is a different Imran Khan. And I don’t just mean different to the great all-rounder, but also different to the one who played in the Tests. This fellow is a 27-year-old left-arm seamer, with 36 wickets at a ludicrous 13.41 from his 18 T20s to date.
Fun fact: Rafatullah will today become the oldest debutant for a Test playing nation in T20 history, beating youthful Indian sprite Rahul Dravid. As my colleague John Ashdown sat next to me points out, picking a 39-year-old debutant under the captaincy of Shahid Afridi might be the most quintessential Pakistan move.
Interesting team then, for England. I’m not sure what they gain from leaving out Willey and Buttler, especially given the latter’s current form and given he’s not in the Test side either. But they have given themselves a chance to look at what Vince can do with the bat and Billings with the gloves before picking their 15-man squad for next year.
The teams in full
AD Hales, JJ Roy, JM Vince, EJG Morgan*, SW Billings†, MM Ali, AU Rashid, CJ Jordan, LE Plunkett, SD Parry, RJW Topley
Rafatullah Mohmand, Sarfraz Ahmed†, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal,Shahid Afridi*, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan
Pakistan bring in Rafatullah Mohmand for his debut at the age of 39.
So for England, Root, Willey, Woakes and Buttler – surprisingly – miss out. Jordan, Plunkett, Parry and Vince all get a game.
Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Malik are missing the match with injury. England pick the same team that beat the UAE earlier in the week, resting a few senior players. Whether it’s the XI that batted or fielded is yet to be confirmed.
England win the toss and bat first
Team news in a moment.
It’s probably worth mentioning that, unbeaten in three as they may be, Pakistan are on a winning streak twice as long. As a consequence, they’re second in the ICC rankings (same as in Tests!), while England sit one place above Afghanistan in eighth.
I’m loath to promote a rival site, but given how reliant on Cricinfo I am in doing these OBOs it’d be churlish to ignore them. There’s a video on there that’s well worth your time, with the ever-excellent George Dobell having a chat with the ever-entertaining Kevin Pietersen. Asked about whether or not he’d share a dressing room with Mohammad Amir, KP is pretty unequivocal... although you’ll be entirely unsurprised to hear he does believe in second chances.
Speaking of Amir, he’s the subject of this week’s edition of The Spin.
Good day, folks. And so we enter the ash end of England’s tour to the UAE, right? The three T20s may be expected to fetch the biggest crowds of the series but there is an argument to be made that, in this country at least, this is the least-loved format of the game. It’s the low-key end to a slightly alien-feeling tour that few people here have actually given much of a thought about. These next three OBOs might well be published in the next edition of the OED next to “perfunctory”. Honestly, why even bother?
Well, er, not quite. In fact we are in the perhaps unique situation for English cricket where the T20s, tacked on at the end as they may be, are in fact the most important leg of the tour. We learned little from the Tests that will stand us in good stead for a tour to South Africa or the next two series, in home conditions against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Winning an ODI series here is scant preparation for the next two ICC events, both of which will take place back in England. But then the World T20? That’s in India (well, somewhere in India) next March and, though this isn’t the subcontinent, the conditions aren’t a million miles away.
Since the most recent of English cricket’s nadirs (could any other sporting team in the world be the subject of that sentence?), the defeat to the Netherlands in the 2014 World T20, they have played just four matches in this format. They’ve won the last three, but only Papua New Guinea have played fewer. After these three matches, they have just two more, both in South Africa in February, so time is short and wouldn’t a continuation of that winning streak be just dandy?
The good news for England is that their side already looks pretty settled. James Taylor, arguably the biggest success story of the tour, has lived David Byrne’s dream and gone home, so James Vince could make his debut here, but other than that we shouldn’t expect too many changes from the side that went unchanged through the ODIs. If they can carry on the improvements they showed throughout that series, with the bat especially, you’d imagine they’ll be just fine on what’s expected to be a flat wicket here in Dubai.
Play begins at 4pm GMT, which is 8pm local time. I’ll have toss and team news around half an hour before then, I would expect. In the meantime, well, just stick that Talking Heads song on loop. I’m not going to be able to give you anything better.