England win the series
That puts England 2-0 up with two to play. In truth it wasn’t the highest quality game – James Vince’s 38 was the highest score and the only truly noteworthy performances both came from Afridi, with bat and ball. Indeed it was only thanks to his absurd assault on Woakes, who continues to fail to convince, that Pakistan came close.
We’re back for the final match of the series, and indeed the final match of the tour, in Sharjah on Monday at the same time. Do join me for that. In the meantime, thanks for reading. Bye!
England win by three runs
19.6 overs: Pakistan 169-8 (Tanvir 6, Anwar 3) Buttler brings in a fly slip for the final ball, a boundary needed to win it... and Woakes sends a quick ball down on a good length and beats Anwar outside off!
19.5 overs: Pakistan 169-8 (Tanvir 6, Anwar 3) 4 to win Woakes is treading such a fine line between hero and chump. Although if we’re being harsh, he’s the only reason Pakistan are close. Clipped out to long leg, but it’s fielded and they only get one. England favourites now, surely?
19.4 overs: Pakistan 168-8 (Tanvir 5, Anwar 3) 5 to win Anwar, who hit a couple of lusty blows himself in the last match, is on strike. Down to deep mid off for a single – five from two needed.
19.3 overs: Pakistan 167-8 (Tanvir 5, Anwar 2) 6 to win This is a bit good, isn’t it? Tanvir has a couple of glances up to the leg side, but then crashes a full one down to mid off and scampers through for a quick single.
19.2 overs: Pakistan 166-8 (Tanvir 4, Anwar 2) 7 to win This is the hat-trick ball for Woakes. Tanvir, the new man, can hit them a fair old way... and he gets it up and over square leg for four!
Wicket! Sarfraz b Woakes 19
19.1 overs: Pakistan 162-8 (Anwar 2) 11 to win Sarfraz has the strike, Chris Woakes has to bowl and he strikes! Sarfraz goes across to try and scoop over long leg, but can only feather it into his stumps!
19th over: Pakistan 162-7 (Sarfraz 19, Anwar 2) Target 173 Pakistan need 25 off the last two, the penultimate of which will be bowled by Willey. Sarfraz steps across to a full one outside off, goes down on one knee and swats it hard behind square leg for four! He works the next one into the on side and scampers through for one, back for a second... in comes the throw, it hits the bat as he slides and runs away for four overthrows! Singles from each of the last three – a good comeback from Willey.
Ball by ball as Pakistan chase 11 from the last over. Ten means a super over.
18th over: Pakistan 148-7 (Sarfraz 8) Target 173 Woakes to bowl this over and the last. His first ball is in the slot and slammed hard and flat, sent skimming over mid off for six. He sends the next ball out to deep mid on and is desperate for two to retain the strike; Sarfraz declines, so Afridi has no interest in a second run next ball. Woakes goes for the yorker and Afridi steps across, turning it into a full toss and flicking very nicely over backward square leg for six more. A high full toss from Woakes outside off... and Afridi cuts it high over backward point for six more! It’s been called a no-ball on height too, so Afridi – strike rate 400 – has a free hit... and it’s a good wide yorker that the batsman can’t connect with. One ball left in the over, and Woakes sends down a wide outside off. 22 off the over, but he gets his man in the end.
Wicket! Afridi c Plunkett b Woakes 24
Afridi looks to go big, but sends a thick outside edge looping up to Plunkett at backward point. He goes for 24 from just eight balls.
17th over: Pakistan 126-6 (Sarfraz 7, Afridi 5) Target 173 Plunkett’s last over now. He begins with a yorker and I’d be surprised if we saw much different from the next five balls. He sends a searing one right between Sarfraz’s feet and I reckon it’s only the faintest inside edge that diverts it past leg stump. Sarfraz clumps into the leg side for a single, then Plunkett shows what I know by banging one in short and getting the wicket. Afridi comes in to huge cheers: “That’s a MASSIVE shot,” says Ramiz Raja, “it’s... almost a six”. Yes, it dropped inside the rope and bobbled away for four to cow corner. A leg-side wide follows, but Plunkett ends with three for 33.
This is pretty much spot on:
Wicket! Malik c Billings b Plunkett 26
Back of a length from the seamer and Malik rocks back, looking to put it in the crowd beyond midwicket. He doesn’t get hold of anything like enough of it and Billings jogs in to take the catch.
16th over: Pakistan 118-5 (Sarfraz 6, Malik 25) Target 173 With nearly 13 an over needed now, Pakistan probably need to go in this over or the next. The steady drip of wickets obviously isn’t helping them, but they bat (or at least hit) very deep. Willey is back in the attack and gets driven cleanly, but only out to fielders in the deep. A woeful full toss, high outside off, gets absolutely slaughtered cross-batted back down the ground, but Billings slides round and makes an excellent save. He’s such a brilliantly athletic fielder as he demonstrated with some of his stops behind the stumps yesterday. Nine from the over, all in ones and twos, which isn’t enough.
15th over: Pakistan 109-5 (Sarfraz 1, Malik 21) Target 173 It’ll only take a big over or two to get Pakistan back into this, but the required rate is starting to get a hurry on in its climb. The ball is back with Plunkett, so you would think it’ll be Willey and Woakes at the death. Just one from the first two balls, then the wicket – there was a definite noise, but I think it was thigh pad. The new man is Sarfraz.
Wicket! Akmal c Buttler b Plunkett 3
This is a brilliant catch, though I think it’s off the pad. Plunkett drifts down the leg side and Akmal tries to flick it down to fine leg, but Buttler springs to his left and takes a cracking catch, diving one-handed. Umar isn’t happy about the decision.
14th over: Pakistan 106-4 (Akmal 3, Malik 19) Target 173 Parry is back and his first ball is dragged too short – Malik sitting very deep in the crease smashes it flat over midwicket for six. A couple more – well run, would you believe it? – when Malik cuts out to deep cover point then he drives out to cover for one more. Another sharply taken two takes them to 11 from the over. Parry finishes with one for 33.
13th over: Pakistan 95-4 (Akmal 1, Malik 10) Target 173 Rashid very nearly gets Maqsood bottom edging into the stumps twice in a row – the batsman having a slog at a pair of googlies and just squeezing it past the timber. Third time lucky though for Rashid, who takes the dangerous hitter out. Umar Akmal is the new man.
I love Umar Akmal:
Rashid finishes his spell with excellent figures of two for 18.
Wicket! Maqsood b Rashid 2
Rashid has Maqsood wrapped around his little finger in this over and sends a googly through the massive gap between bat and pad, straight into middle and off.
12th over: Pakistan 93-3 (Maqsood 2, Malik 9) Target 173 Back to seam and Plunkett. His first ball is short and innocuous and, with fine leg up, worked round the corner for four by Hafeez. It’s not too costly though as he strikes with his next ball, bringing the big-hitting Maqsood to the crease. He has a massive wild swing at his first ball and sends a very thick outside edge down to third man for one. A couple more singles and the required run rate is now dead on 10.
Wicket! Hafeez c Willey b Plunkett 25
Hafeez tries to turn a full-ish one off his pads and into the on side, but gets a leading edge and sends it looping to the man at mid off.
11th over: Pakistan 86-2 (Hafeez 21, Malik 8) Target 173 This is lovely batting from Hafeez, playing nice and straight against the spin without doing anything stupid. That allows Malik to go on the attack, using his feet well to turn a decent enough ball from Rashid into a half volley and rocket it back down to long on for four. A single brings Hafeez back on strike and he sweeps perfectly when Rashid drifts down the leg side, sending it down to fine leg for four. Twelve from each of the last two overs and Pakistan get their noses back in front, you’d think.
10th over: Pakistan 74-2 (Hafeez 15, Malik 2) Target 173 Too short from Parry and his first ball is pulled hard over midwicket for a flat – much-needed – six by Hafeez. The bowler comes back well though, turning it past the batsman’s prod two balls later. He gives up a rank full toss and Hafeez pulls towards cow corner, but doesn’t get hold of it and there’s just one there. Parry got away with that one, but he doesn’t when he overpitches the final ball of the over and sees it smitten back over his head for four runs more vicious than Vic Mackey.
9th over: Pakistan 62-2 (Hafeez 4, Malik 1) Target 173 Rashid strikes with the first ball of the over, bringing Shoaib Malik, one of the better players of spin in the side, to the crease. Looking at the replay, that’s the googly from Rashid that beat the batsman on the inside edge. Single, dot, single, dot dot goes the rest of the over, with the final ball very nearly trapping Malik on the back foot.
Wicket! Rafatullah st Buttler b Rashid 23
The opener comes down the track, looking to mow it through the off side. Rashid sees him coming and drops his length back a touch, spins it past the batsman and Buttler completes his second stumping of the match.
8th over: Pakistan 60-1 (Hafeez 3, Rafatullah 23) Target 173 This is really lovely, slow stuff from Parry and Pakistan aren’t willing to take risks against the extra turn that’s generating. Hafeez tries the pull, Rafatullah the reverse sweep, but with no pace on the ball they can’t get it away to the fence. Four from the over, all in singles and England have reeled it in a bit.
7th over: Pakistan 56-1 (Hafeez 1, Rafatullah 21) Target 173 Pakistan win the battle of the power plays then, for what it’s worth. With that done, Rashid comes on for a bowl having been asked to do so little in the first match his name might as well have been Stereo Mike.
He’s getting a lot of turn straight away and concedes just the one single from his first five balls. There was even a googly slipped in there. The final ball is cut square for one.
6th over: Pakistan 54-1 (Hafeez 0, Rafatullah 20) Target 173 England desperately needed the wicket of Shehzad. They reckon they have Rafatullah here too as he charges at Woakes and misses out with a big swing, but the umpire says no edge – he was probably right too. The next ball gets thumped out to cow corner for an ugly, ugly three, but there’s a bit of hesitation mid-pitch as they think about the fourth. Eventually they decide against it just in time to avoid another comedy run out. A single to third man brings new man Hafeez on strike for the first time and he plays out three dots. A much better over from Woakes.
5th over: Pakistan 51-1 (Hafeez 0, Rafatullah 17) Target 173 England desperately need to change something, so Buttler goes to the spin of his Lancashire colleague Stephen Parry. Shehzad uses his feet well to get to the pitch and work it into the on side for a single, then Rafatullah clubs to mid on for four, the ball just beating the despairing dive of Billings to the fence to bring up the 50. This is followed by an overthrow as England get a touch panicky in the field. The wicket from the final ball should calm them though.
Wicket! Shehzad st Buttler b Parry 28
This is a lovely ball, slowed down and flighted down on middle and off. Shehzad’s eyes light up and he comes haring out of his crease towards it, but gets beaten by a bit of extra turn past the outside edge and Buttler has all the time in the world to remove the bails.
4th over: Pakistan 45-0 (Shehzad 27, Rafatullah 12) Target 173 Plunkett, who was excellent with the short stuff yesterday, comes in and opens with a bouncer that’s top edged down to fine leg for four more by Rafatullah. He follows this with a no-ball, so we get our first free hit of the series: Rafatullah skies it and gets caught at long leg by Hales, but he sent it high enough that they can run two. A single, then Shehzad gives a back-of-a-length ball the charge and absolutely mullers it over midwicket for six more! It would be generous to call this bowling ordinary: 31 from the last two overs.
3rd over: Pakistan 30-0 (Shehzad 20, Rafatullah 5) Target 173 Six from the first ball as Willey serves up a leg-stump half volley and Shehzad flicks it quite beautifully over long leg. It’s dropped beyond the boundary by drinks boy Eoin Morgan to boot. Two balls later Shehzad goes for the same area, but doesn’t hit it cleanly and square leg is around to keep them to two. Shehzad gives himself room and slaps it over mid off, the ball trickling over the rope for four. The final ball is pretty woeful, sloppy, down the leg side and tickled round the corner to the boundary for four more. Pakistan’s openers are flying.
2nd over: Pakistan 14-0 (Shehzad 4, Rafatullah 5) Target 173 Woakes has it at the other end. His second ball is a nice lifter that just swings away a touch outside off and has Shehzad fishing. A leg-side wide yields the first run of the over and the next ball, tucked to midwicket, brings the first off the bat. Another wide down the leg side and Buttler goes up for the appeal but, again, the umpire isn’t fooled by the attempted distraction. That one actually moved from leg to off after passing the stumps. A third one down the leg side – Woakes needs to find his radar quickly – then the 39-year-old Rafatullah clubs it tennis-style down to long on for four.
Once again, I have miscounted the number of balls in the first over. Please refresh to see the addition of a single. Sorry!
1st over: Pakistan 6-0 (Shehzad 3, Rafatullah 1) Target 173 David Willey has the new ball for England. There’s very nearly a run-out second ball as Shehzad turns it to Hales at midwicket and goes for a quick single, lucky the throw misses. Willey finds a touch of movement, both ways, away from Rafatullah and striking him on the thigh pad – they take a leg bye – and back into Shehzad as it goes down the leg side for a wide. One more to Shehzad as he comes down the track and crunches it to mid on, but Plunkett saves three with a good diving stop on the edge of the circle. A quick single from the fifth ball and Willey throws down the stumps, but he’s home by half a yard. Good bit of fielding though from the, sigh, Yorkshireman. One more from the last.
That’s a decent final over from England, and a very useful 15 from seven for Woakes after England’s lower-middle order collapsed. Shahid Afridi was brilliant with the ball, but this will be a tough chase in 10 minutes or so. I’m off to make a cup of tea before then.
20th over: England 172-8 (Woakes 15, Rashid 3) The final over is going to be bowled by Wahab as England look to push to 170. Woakes gets a couple with a mistimed clump to square leg, then one more with a push into the off side. Rashid strikes the third ball sweetly out to deep cover, but there’s a sweeper there keeping them to one. Woakes gets four – just the eighth of the innings next to nine sixes – when Wahab’s attempted yorker comes out as a full-toss outside off and the all-rounder cuts elegantly behind square. Two more, very nicely run, from the penultimate ball take them to 168 and the final ball is another full toss, cut hard through backward point for four more.
19th over: England 158-8 (Woakes 2, Rashid 2) So Buttler’s enterprising innings – 33 from 22 balls – comes to an end swiftly followed by the dangerous-ish Plunkett a couple of balls later. England’s innings is in danger of petering out here. Woakes gets a single first ball, and Willey is dropped! A big swish sends the ball miles and miles into the air, then Tanvir takes his eye off the ball and fumbles it to the ground. It’s a bad drop, but not a costly one as he perishes the very next ball. England have lost four for 24 in 16 balls. Rashid nearly goes a couple of balls later, sending a thick outside edge in the air and down to third man for two.
Wicket! Willey c Maqsood b Anwar 4
Short ball, hooked, doesn’t middle it and the ball flies flat to deep square leg.
Wicket! Plunkett c Sarfraz b Anwar 1
Plunkett has a big wild swish at a half-volley outside off, but can only nick it behind.
18th over: England 151-6 (Plunkett 1, Willey 2) Tanvir into his final over. Willey clumps a single into the on side, then Buttler tries to play the reverse ramp over third man, who’s up in the circle, but he misses it. The captain thus opts for something a bit more orthodox, smashing it up and over extra cover for four. Tanvir comes back with a bouncer and, with fine leg up, a thin top edge sails quite ludicrously over the rope for six. 170 the minimum target here, you’d have to... oh never mind. Plunkett the new man.
Wicket! Buttler c Sarfraz b Tanvir 33
Buttler tries to play that weird reverse ramp of his to third man but just gets a thin edge through to the keeper.
17th over: England 139-5 (Buttler 23, Willey 1) Wahab returns and his first ball, full and inviting on middle and off, is crunched back over his head for a beautiful six from Billings. How on earth do you set a plan for this pair, both of whom can hit sixes all around the 360 degrees? Well, Umar Akmal gives me an answer and it’s “pull of a miraculous bit of fielding.” David Willey, the latest Northants player to be cruelly pinched by the big money wielders of Yorkshire, comes to the middle.
Wicket! Billings c Akmal b Wahab
This is brilliant. Billings reaches from outside off and doesn’t quite get hold of it. Akmal takes the catch at long on and, after an age of trying not to, stumbles over the boundary rope. At the last possible moment though, he chucks it back up in the air, turns, wanders back into the field of play and coolly collects the catch.
16th over: England 130-4 (Buttler 22, Billings 5) Back comes the left-armer Tanvir. Billings steps across and hoicks a short one down to deep fine leg, but there’s not enough pace on the ball to take it to the boundary. Tanvir is still so, so wide on the crease from round the wicket and I’m not sure half these deliveries are legal. The umpires are either satisfied or not doing their jobs though. Finally a PRESSURE-RELIEVING (TM) boundary for Buttler, who rocks on to the back foot and effortlessly swats a short one over square leg. And another! This time it’s fuller from Tanvir and crushed high over long on. Add a leg bye, a wide and a couple of singles and you’ve got 16 from that over.
15th over: England 114-4 (Buttler 9, Billings 4) Anwar comes back on and Billings should be a gonner: he clumps one straight to the mid-on fielder and sets off for the run, but the ball is fumbled and they get through for the single. Buttler is then beaten fishing, walking down the track and misreading both the length and the pace when he tries to ramp it to third man. You can sense the batsmen feeling bogged down here. Billings gives it the charge and Anwar sees him coming again, dropping his length back and the batsman has to pull out of the shot. This has been excellent bowling.
Howard Appleby asks: “Regarding that photo of Sam Billings. How come the marks on his bat are green if the ball is white? They wouldn’t be greasing up the ball with the unthinkable, would they?”
You mean the grass that it’s being smacked all over?
14th over: England 109-4 (Buttler 8, Billings 0) Back comes Afridi and... is that a googly?! He’s just got one to turn back into the right-hander. England work the singles but then Vince gets greedy and gives his wicket away – the sweep was never really on there. Afridi finishes with a remarkable three wickets for 15 and takes Saeed Ajmal’s record as the highest wicket-taker in T20 internationals. Very well bowled, sir.
Wicket! Vince c Anwar b Afridi 38
Full and straight from Afridi and he gets his third wicket! The set batsman tries to sweep and sends a top edge sailing high into the night sky. Anwar comes in from square leg to complete the catch comfortably.
13th over: England 106-3 (Buttler 7, Vince 36) Malik goes up for lbw against Buttler when the batsman attempted a reverse sweep, but it was turning down the leg side. And indeed struck him flush on the arsecheek. They run a single, then Vince takes England into three figures with a classy lofted drive for six over mid off and a sweep over midwicket for four. Make it three boundaries on the spin as he nails another sweep through square leg for four more. A low full toss is squeezed down to long leg for a single, then the last ball is nudged round the corner for a quick one as the fielder hesitates. 17 from the over, which is much more like it from England.
12th over: England 89-3 (Buttler 5, Vince 21) A huge shout for caught behind first ball as Wahab comes back – Vince following a bouncer down the leg side. The umpire isn’t even close to fooled by the ruse and signals a wide. There’s a much more genuine appeal a couple of balls later when Buttler drives and misses outside off, but he missed it comfortably. The final ball is a slower one in the slot and Vince looks to have sent it down long-on’s throat, but the jumping Tanvir can only tip it over the rope for six. He was too far infield I reckon.
11th over: England 78-3 (Buttler 3, Vince 13) Malik very nearly yorks Root with his first ball, a quicker, flatter one pushed into the batsman’s feet, Darren Lehman-style. Root responds with a much-needed boundary, a clean slog-sweep for six timed very nicely over midwicket. He goes for it again next ball though and falls on his sword; Afridi getting involved with the wicket again. England in a pickle as Cap’n o’ t’day Buttler comes in. He’s off the mark with a well run two out to deep mid on. Afridi makes a good diving stop from the final ball to save a couple.
Wicket! Root c Afridi b Malik 20
Root looks to slog sweep for the second ball in succession, but doesn’t get the elevation required to clear Afridi at midwicket. The Pakistan captain times his jump perfectly to take it above his head.
10th over: England 68-2 (Root 14, Vince 12) Afridi has changed ends and he continues to frustrate England. His two wickets so far today have moved him level with Saeed Ajmal as the most successful bowler in the format. Root hammers a pull out to deep square leg but can only find the boundary sweeper on the bounce. Five from the over, all in ones. Something’s gotta give.
Out on the boundary there is a bat out for Philip Hughes, who died a year ago today.
9th over: England 63-2 (Root 11, Vince 9) Afridi is happy to strangle England with the spinners here so he turns to Malik, who begins with a leg-side wide. Three singles from the next three balls, then Root looks to go on the attack but can’t get it past the fielders – just one with a hammered pull out to square leg. A swing and a miss from the last.
Robert Wilson, fresh from his fruit-based nightmare yesterday, writes: “This is just utter bliss. Best day off ever. I was up at the crack for the start of the Pink Ball Test. Then quick snooze. And now there’s this second Run-Outs on Ice spectacular. Must say I’m hugely behind this new Guardian cricket around the clock business. Perhaps, we can slough off all the news, culture and politics stuff if you guys are getting a little punchy. Because it’s top larks from this end, I can tell you.”
8th over: England 58-2 (Root 9, Vince 8) Another new bowler, Ahmed Shehzad comes on to throw down a few of his part-time leggies with England struggling to time the ball against spin out there. His line and length are, well, all over the place, but the two batsmen don’t want to take any risks having lost two wickets in the last three overs and just work singles from the first four balls. Root runs the fifth down to third man for a couple, then gets lucky as he top edges a sweep out to deep mid on, only for the ball to drop between the two converging fielders and bounce away for four. England have, almost by mistake, scored 10 off that over.
7th over: England 48-2 (Root 1, Vince 6) That’s the powerplay done and England will be closer to satisfied than ecstatic. Afridi is carrying on here and, while there’s no turn, he’s getting a lot of top spin and after a couple of singles he gets his second wicket – that of the set batsman. Root comes in and is struck on the pads first ball, but it was shooting down leg. This is excellent bowling from Afridi.
Wicket! Roy c Sarfraz b Afridi 29
The captain gets his second. It’s another quick, straight one and Roy has a wild swing. He gets a thin edge and, after much juggling, the keeper just snatches hold of it before the ball hits the deck.
6th over: England 45-1 (Roy 28, Vince 5) Tanvir returns and the left armer comes round the wicket to Roy. The Surrey man looks for his third six with a big booming drive, but it goes further up than forward and drops just beyond the retreating fielder, inside the rope and bobbles over for four instead. A clump to deep midwicket next ball brings two more and that’s followed by a single as Roy backs away, Tanvir takes the pace off and the batsman has to rethink his shot. The bowler is bowling from very wide on the crease and needs to be careful he’s not no-balled for going outside the tramlines.
Happy birthday, by the way, to Finbar Anslow’s wife Elisabeth. Hope you have a lovely day.
5th over: England 36-1 (Roy 20, Vince 4) A double change in the bowling, a first sight of spin and, with those, a wicket from the first ball of the over. Vince comes to the crease and gets off the mark with a hard slash over extra cover that spins away for four. He’s beaten by the next one though and only saved by a late inside edge on to the pads. Much better over for Pakistan, with the wicket and just one delivery scored off.
Here’s Nicola Davies, with today’s first entry in the Good Causes Dept.:
“I sell a screen printed diagram that shows where the fielding positions are on a cricket pitch, and donate 10% of the proceeds to my local Mind. I also include information from Time to Change (the campaign to end mental health discrimination) with every order I send out, which gives people tips about supporting someone with a mental health problem. And most importantly – reminding us all to take a moment to ask someone how they are.
Christmas (I know it seems outrageous to mention the C word before we’ve hit December, so for that I apologise!) is a time where this can get forgotten, when we’re all so preoccupied with merriment. So I hope if any of my posters find their way onto people’s Christmas lists, they will be delivered with a gentle reminder about how important it is we look out for each-other.
If you could squeeze in a mention of www.artoffielding.co.uk I would be endlessly grateful!”
Happy to give it a mention. I’m sure they’d be perfect for any self-respecting OBO reader. If there are any.
Wicket! Hales lbw b Afridi 11
Hales goes back and plays round a quick, straight one that keeps low and hits him dead in front.
4th over: England 32-0 (Roy 20, Hales 11) First bowling change of the day as Wahab Riaz replaces Tanvir. The batsmen exchange singles then Roy steps down the track again and hammers a flat, hard six over mid on. He tries the De Villiers scoop next, ramping it up over the keeper, but doesn’t quite get enough on it and has to settle for a single. Hales gets one more to square leg.
3rd over: England 22-0 (Roy 12, Hales 9) Roy shuffles down the pitch and, with a huge swing of the arms, deposits the ball deep into the crowd over mid on for the first six of the match. He comes forward again next ball, but Anwar sees him coming and pulls his length back cleverly. The bowler follows this with a few words that, according to Ramiz Raja, can’t be translated live on air. Anwar sends down a second straight bouncer, but this one is far too high and called wide. A single from each of the three remaining deliveries and that’s a very good over for England.
2nd over: England 11-0 (Roy 4, Hales 7) It’s the left-arm seam of Sohail Tanvir from the other end. The crowd in Dubai is very noisy, it has to be said, as you’d expect for a Friday. Hales comes down the track to a length ball and smacks it over mid off; it’s off the bottom of the bat but safe enough and skips away for four. He takes a single into the on side next ball, before Roy is beaten all ends up by a nice lifter that moves away from the right-hander’s outside edge. A leading edge follows, this time all along the ground, but that’s worrying given the number of times these two openers got leading edges while looking to turn it into the on side yesterday. Two runs to long leg to finish the over.
1st over: England 4-0 (Roy 2, Hales 2) Anwar Ali, probably Pakistan’s best player yesterday with both ball and bat, has the new ball. He’s over the wicket to Roy, at around 80mph but without much movement and Roy gets off the mark with a flashed cut to backward point for one. Hales then gets a single first ball to the same region, albeit played far more delicately. One more to Roy, tucked to mid on then Hales looks to drive through cover only for it to be cut off: “How good was that? Finds the fielder” says T20 mediocrity apologist Ramiz Raja. A single from the final ball makes four from the over.
Here we go. Players are out and ready to go.
Is this a sign that Amir will be making his comeback in India next year?
Worth noting that Buttler is down to keep for England today. I was very impressed with Billings yesterday, both with bat and gloves. There was an excellent stumping, a good sharp catch off Plunkett’s bowling and two or three really good stops to save byes – his reactions were quite outstanding and I’m not sure he got enough credit for that.
Quick trivia quiz: can anyone, without looking it up, remember the game in which James Tredwell captained England?
The teams in full
JJ Roy, AD Hales, JM Vince, JE Root, JC Buttler*, SW Billings†, DJ Willey, CR Woakes, AU Rashid, LE Plunkett, SD Parry
Rafatullah Mohmand, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfraz Ahmed†, Shahid Afridi*, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz
Morgan, Jordan, Moeen and Topley are the men left out for England.
England’s fourth captain of 2015 confirms four changes: Buttler himself, Root, Woakes and Willey in. Shahid Afridi – who tossed the coin right across the pitch – confirms Malik and Shehzad come in. “Seven batsmen plus me,” he says.
England win the toss and bat first
Again. And Buttler was the man to win the toss, so I guess that confirms the news below.
More team news: according to Twitter, once again, Jos Buttler will captain England today for what I’m pretty certain is the first time. I’m confident this means Morgan is sitting it out.
Even if this series gives us nothing else, we’ll always have this glorious memory.
This is even better when you remember that the ball is at the other end.
Bit of early team news for you. If Twitter is to be believed, Shoaib Malik and Ahmed Shehzad have shaken off a knock and an illness respectively and will play today, with Rizwan and Imran Khan dropping out. This is, apparently, according to team manager Intikhab Alam.
Hello again, folks. I was all set to tell you about how today is a historic day in cricket. Pink balls and day-night Tests? No, not that but, after a quick discussion yesterday, I was convinced this was the first time that England had played back-to-back T20s on consecutive days. As it turns out, it’s happened four times before, somewhat spoiling what would have been a tenuous preamble anyway, but the last time they did it was five years ago – against these very same opponents in this very same stadium. Bugger.
Then again, only one England player remains from those two matches, Cap’n Morgan. The short turnaround from yesterday’s win is therefore as close to ideal preparation as this young side will get ahead of next year’s World T20. That tournament, surely, is the sole focus throughout this three-match series.
This presents a dilemma for England. Do they stick with the side that won so comprehensively yesterday, or do they bring back the likes of Root and Buttler as they look to continue their winning run (now a mighty four matches) and breed that stalwart of sporting press conference buzzwords: confidence? They need to decide on 15 names for the tournament in India, so do the likes of James Vince, Sam Billings, Stephen Parry and Liam Plunkett – all of whom impressed yesterday – get a run in the side, or do those rested get a run-out? Instinct tells me it’ll be the latter, but then I might be wrong.
We’ll find out in half an hour or so, so I’ll let you know then. England are one up with two to play and can seal a very impressive series win today. That’s it. That’s all there is to say by way of a preamble. Sorry. Here is some nice music.