So England win the series 3-0, although they can hardly claim the last two results were comprehensive. Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi were brilliant for Pakistan but it was all in vain as Chris Jordan bowled a quite magnificent super over to win it for England.
It means that England go off to South Africa on a winning note. They end their tour to the UAE having won both the ODI and T20 series comfortably. Andrew Strauss’s brave new white ball dawn is off to a start better than I think any of us expected.
That’s all from me, as I’ve got things to be getting on with. Thanks for reading and all that – bye!
England win on super over
Super over ball 5: England 4-0 (Morgan 3, Buttler 1) Pushed down to long off they come back for the second. The throw comes in with Buttler short of his ground at the non-striker’s end, but the throw is fumbled at the base of the stumps by Anwar!
Super over ball 4: England 2-0 (Morgan 1, Buttler 1) 2 to win Chipped out to extra cover, they scamper a single.
Super over ball 3: England 1-0 (Morgan 1, Buttler 0) 3 to win Reverse sweep to backward point, no run.
Super over ball 2: England 1-0 (Morgan 1, Buttler 0) 3 to win Pushed down the ground for a single.
Super over ball 1: England 0-0 (Morgan 0, Buttler 0) four to win Even England can’t blow this, can they? No slip in place and Afridi starts with a fast, flat one that Morgan can’t lay bat on.
Oh for... it IS Afridi now. Morgan and Buttler are coming out for England.
Change of plan: they’ve gone with Tanvir. Not what I’d have done, but then I wouldn’t have gone with Jordan either.
Afridi to bowl.
Pakistan score three runs
England will need four to win. What Pakistan wouldn’t give for Umar Gul right now, eh?
Wicket! Akmal b Jordan 1
Super over ball 6: Pakistan 3-1 (Afridi 0) Fast leg stump yorker and Akmal misses an attempted scoop. That’s an outstanding over.
Super over ball 5: Pakistan 3-0 (Afridi 0, Akmal 1) Yorker dug out back to the bowler and it’s a dot!
Super over ball 4: Pakistan 3-0 (Afridi 0, Akmal 1) This is great bowling. Full, on off and they can only get another leg bye.
Super over ball 3: Pakistan 2-0 (Afridi 0, Akmal 1) Full and straight again and Akmal can only get it out to midwicket for one.
Super over ball 2: Pakistan 1-0 (Afridi 0, Akmal 0) Full and on the pads, they take a leg-bye to square leg.
Super over ball 1: Pakistan 0-0 (Afridi 0, Akmal 0) Dot ball, he nutmegs Afridi with a fast yorker and Buttler gathers.
It’s Chris Jordan to bowl. Bloody hell.
Afridi and Akmal to bat first for Pakistan.
The super over then. Pakistan will bat first. They have three wickets to play with. England can use one bowler.
It's a tie!
19.6 overs Pakistan 154-7 (Anwar 0, Tanvir 10) 2 to win Swing and a miss and they run the bye. Woakes removes the bails and we check for a run out but he’s home safe! The players are shaking hands, but the TV reckon we have a super over now. Damn.
Two needed from the final ball, one for the super over. Tanvir has the strike as the batsmen crossed.
Wicket! Malik c Billings b Woakes 75
19.5 overs Pakistan 153-7 (Tanvir 10) 2 to win Malik has the strike with two need from two. It’s a yorker and he goes big... but can only find the man at long on! Blimey.
19.4 overs Pakistan 153-6 (Malik 75, Tanvir 10) 2 to win Bunted down the ground with no great timing, one run.
19.3 overs Pakistan 152-6 (Malik 75, Tanvir 9) 3 to win Full and moving away from the left-hander’s mow a fraction. Through to Buttler it goes for a dot.
19.2 overs Pakistan 152-6 (Malik 75, Tanvir 9) 3 to win It’s a super over if this is tied, by the way. Let’s all hope that doesn’t happen, I have packing to do. Full from Woakes, just short of a yorker length and my word that is a magnificent shot! Picked up on off and driven straight back over the bowler’s head for six!
19.1 overs Pakistan 146-6 (Malik 75, Tanvir 3) 9 to win Woakes will have the last over. He held his nerve to defend 11 in the final over of Friday’s match. Clumped down to long on for just the one.
18.6 overs Pakistan 145-6 (Malik 74, Tanvir 3) 10 to win Rubbish high full toss but Malik is tied up and can only squirt it away for a single. Jordan lucky that wasn’t called a no ball on height.
18.5 overs Pakistan 144-6 (Malik 73, Tanvir 3) 11 to win Full and wide, Malik falls over reaching for it and gets a thick outside edge down to third man for four!
18.4 overs Pakistan 140-6 (Malik 69, Tanvir 3) 15 to win Good yorker and Malik can’t get it away – dot ball.
18.3 overs Pakistan 140-6 (Malik 69, Tanvir 3) 15 to win That’s better from Jordan, yorker driven straight back down the ground for one.
18.2 overs Pakistan 139-6 (Malik 69, Tanvir 2) 16 to win Full toss outside off driven through cover point. Sweeper keeps it to one.
Oh right, forgot about this:
18.1 overs Pakistan 138-6 (Malik 68, Tanvir 2) 17 to win It is Jordan, who’s had a pretty wretched day, to bowl the 19th. Yet another full toss, driven through extra cover for one by Tanvir.
18th over: Pakistan 137-6 (Malik 68, Tanvir 1) target 155 Willey, the pick of England’s seamers so far, to bowl his last over. I imagine Jordan will get the 19th and Woakes the 20th... if it lasts that long. The batsmen exchange singles but then Afridi tries to get cute and loses his wicket. It was all rather strange really, a very delayed reaction from England amid silence from the crowd.
Into the tail now, though Tanvir can’t half hit them. He clubs an agricultural shot down the ground for one. Oohh and that’s lovely from Malik, backing away and guiding it through the vacant slip region for four... then he pulls the next ball square through midwicket for four more. Let’s go ball-by-ball.
Wicket! Afridi b Willey 29
Afridi steps across and looks to scoop a slower ball over the top and down to fine leg. He misses it though and, though no one realises it at first, Willey has taken out his leg stump. Game on?
17th over: Pakistan 126-5 (Malik 59, Afridi 28) target 155 Jordan, 0-20 from his two so far, comes back and his first ball is gloved down to fine leg for two. Afridi then steps across to an off stump full toss and effortlessly flicks it through square for one, before another full toss is driven hard through point for four by Malik. Yet another full toss next, driven through extra cover but the diving Vince flicks it brilliantly back in play to save two. That was a great shot and an even better bit of fielding. He gets his yorker right, at last, with the fifth ball, and they can only get a single, then he ends with his fourth full toss of the over, lucky to see Afridi only find the fielder at cover point. 11 from the over and Pakistan, needing 29 from 18, are favourites now.
16th over: Pakistan 115-5 (Malik 52, Afridi 24) target 155 Pakistan need 51 from 30 balls. The last 18 have brought 37. Willey returns and Afridi is very nearly gone taking a quick single first ball – Morgan’s underarm throw just missed the stumps with the batsman short. Four, then Afridi monsters one miles out of the stadium – 103 metres – over midwicket. Eventually a new ball is found for Willey (heh) and Afridi knocks the last one for a quick single to bring up the 50 partnership off 29 balls. 48 runs have come from the last four overs.
15th over: Pakistan 104-5 (Malik 50, Afridi 15) target 155 Woakes returns, with England needing to break this partnership sooner rather than later. He’s so close to doing so first ball as Malik has a mow and gets an inside edge inches wide of his leg stump. To compound things, it zips off on its way down to fine leg for four. Oh and then he edges the next down to third man for four more! Actually that’s unfair, he guided that very late and very nicely to bring the hundred up for Pakistan. These two have brought them right back into this. Two more out to deep backward point and Malik raises his bat... before realising he’s on 49. He’s not for long though, as he runs it down to third man for a single to bring up his half century from 39 balls. Excellent innings and Pakistan will want him to hang around for a bit yet.
14th over: Pakistan 92-5 (Malik 39, Afridi 14) target 155 Afridi slog-sweeps one from outside off and clears midwicket, clanking it into the roof of the stand. Such a lovely woody noise when his bat connected with that one. He misses the next and only gets a leg bye, but no matter as Moeen offers Malik a low full toss that gets dismissed over long on for six more! Single from the last and Moeen finishes with slightly tarnished figures of one for 22 from his four.
13th over: Pakistan 78-5 (Malik 32, Afridi 8) target 155 On we go with Rashid; England are strangling the life out of Pakistan here and Afridi is beaten by an enormous leg break that starts a good six inches outside leg and turns well past off. Sadly for Rashid, he follows that with a full toss that Afridi can only meet with the bottom end of his bat, but he sends it over mid on for six anyway. A single brings Malik on strike and he uses his feet well, coming down the track and hitting a tracer bullet straight back down along the ground for a violent four.
12th over: Pakistan 67-5 (Malik 28, Afridi 1) target 155 You get the feeling this could be over very soon if Pakistan aren’t careful, as Umar Akmal goes first ball bringing Afridi to the crease. The batsmen crossed during the wicket, so he has to wait a couple of balls for Malik to take a single to come on strike, then he very nearly goes second ball when Moeen fires it down wide of off stump and, reaching for it, Afridi gets a thick outside edge over backward point for one.
Wicket! Akmal c Jordan b Moeen 4
Akmal pulls out the slog sweep and sends it flying, flat to deep mid on where Jordan runs round and takes a smart tumbling catch.
11th over: Pakistan 65-4 (Malik 27, Akmal 4) target 155 A half-volley so juicy you could use it as crow-killer (how’s that for a 90s reference?) gets smashed high into the stands for a straight six by Malik. He then gets a single to bring Umar Akmal on strike and the newer batsman is fortunate his leading edge drifts too far wide of the bowler. A few more singles worked around and there are those 10 runs needed by Pakistan.
10th over: Pakistan 55-4 (Malik 19, Akmal 2) target 155 Moeen continues and continues to find good turn, tucking up the batsmen. He turns one back past Malik’s inside edge, but I’m not convinced it (a) hit him in line or (b) wasn’t going down leg. The required run rate is heading towards 10.
9th over: Pakistan 52-4 (Malik 17, Akmal 1) target 155 Rashid pulls off a quite stunning caught-and-bowled off the first ball, with the decision taking far longer to come from the third umpire than it really should have. Umar Akmal is the new batsman and gets off the mark straight away, then Rashid rips one past Malik’s outside edge. Just two runs and the wicket from an excellent over.
Out it is
Lots of slow-motion replays, foreshortening, all that nonsense. In the end, it was pretty clearly out.
Wicket? Rizwan c&b Rashid 24
He hasn’t got this has he? Rizwan steps down the track and looks to smash it into the on side. He gets a leading edge that barely ever gets a couple of inches off the ground, but Rashid moves quickly low to his left, sticks out his left hand and takes the catch. We’re checking it with the third umpire, but it looks clean to me. The umpire’s soft signal was out...
8th over: Pakistan 50-3 (Malik 16, Rizwan 24) target 155 Spin from both ends now, with Moeen into the attack and he too finds appreciable turn from the, er, off. Too much, in fact, second ball, which spins down the leg side and is called wide. That aside, there are just three singles from the over, all worked with the spin into the leg side. I honestly can’t remember ever seeing Moeen get turn that vicious.
7th over: Pakistan 46-3 (Malik 15, Rizwan 22) target 155 Well that kinda of fell apart for Jordan, didn’t it? Rashid is on now, with the fielding restrictions off and he opens with a straight one that Malik cuts for two. Malik, then Rizwan hammer hard pulls out to deep mid on, but on both occasions they can’t get past the fielder and only pick up one apiece. A bit of encouragement follows for England though as Rashid rips a big leg-break past Rizwan’s outside edge, earning a knowing smile from the batsman, who top-edges a sweep out to deep square leg for one off the last.
6th over: Pakistan 40-3 (Malik 11, Rizwan 20) target 155 Tight from Jordan until Rizwan goes with hard hands and slices a big thick outside edge down to the third man boundary for four. The next one’s shorter and straighter – too short and Pakistan’s keeper swishes it behind square leg for a second boundary on the spin. Two ball later Jordan sends down a slower one, which Rizwan reads beautifully, adjusting and delaying his shot before sweeping it down to long leg for another four.
5th over: Pakistan 26-3 (Malik 10, Rizwan 7) target 155 Woakes has changed ends. He finds a thick outside edge from Rizwan, who sends it down to third man for a single. The batsmen exchange ones into the on side, before Malik chips over midwicket for a couple. Five from the over.
“Woakes was absolutely bound to play a blinder after what you said earlier,” points out Robert Wilson. “Happens to the best of us. Still pretty funny... You should own it, proudly, triumphantly. Eff it, you should claim it.”
4th over: Pakistan 21-3 (Malik 7, Rizwan 5) target 155 Woakes is replaced by Jordan, who beats Malik’s wild cut first up with a nice lifter. A couple of balls later he finds the batsman’s bottom edge and is a touch unlucky not to see it cannon back into the stumps. Never mind spin, Pakistan are struggling with Jordan’s extra pace... and as I write that, Malik backs away and cracks a vicious drive off the back foot and through extra cover for four. Very nicely played. One more out to deep backward point, then Rizwan grabs another single from the last ball/
3rd over: Pakistan 15-3 (Malik 2, Rizwan 4) target 155 Willey continues and Malik pinches another sharp single from his first ball, before Rafatullah plays all around the second. Hawkeye confirms that it was a good lbw decision too – the ball would have hit the top of middle. Rizwan takes his place at the crease and opens his account with a fine four, slashed hard, along the turf and through extra cover.
Remarkably, according to Sky, the earlier run-out was Pakistan’s ninth of the tour; five have involved Hafeez.
Wicket! Rafatullah lbw b Willey 0
Full, swinging back in and it hits him just below the knee roll. It’s a golden duck for Rafatullah and this is carnage.
2nd over: Pakistan 10-2 (Malik 1, Rafatullah 0) target 155 Well that was about as eventful an over as you’ll get. It was remarkably similar to this:
Woakes shares the new ball and has a strangled appeal for lbw with his third ball. It was going over the top and there may have been a bit of bat involved, but you know, other than that. He begins with five dots, before Malik steals a single off the last via the inside edge.
John Starbuck has been musing over England’s spinners: “Dan, If you’ve got Root in the team, you might as well get a few overs out of him while you can. He’s been widely promoted as a F.E.C. and that implies he’ll drop the bowling role once it happens. I think you have to go back to Illingworth to find one who kept it up. Could it be something to do with having the power to bring on whomsoever he wants instead of flogging away himself?”
1st over: Pakistan 9-2 (Rafatullah 0) target 155 No one has ever succesfully chased more than 140 at Sharjah and David Willey will be the man to open England’s attempt at stopping Pakistan becoming the first. His first ball is full and on leg stump, and turned to long leg for four. A couple of dots are followed by a wide swung down leg. Another couple of dots, then Shehzad goes. In comes Hafeez; “look out for a run-out here folks... he’s absolutely terrible between the wickets,” says Rameez Raja, wryly. Two more wides down leg, both very well stopped by Buttler, who perhaps read those a bit too easily. Oh and then a third on the bounce. Finally he gets a yorker right, Hafeez pushes it out for what should be a comfortable two and... well, what was that you were saying, Rameez?
It’s contrition o’clock for Jonathan Wood: “Yes, you would choose to print the most ridiculous email I’ve ever written, wouldn’t you, rather than some of my more brilliant utterings? Made the mistake of looking at his run-rate, as he was overtaken by the number 8 batsman, without thinking about context. I’d love to claim someone hijacked my computer, but I think it’s more a case of someone hijacking my brain. I accept all abuse that comes my way.”
Hafeez is the man to go (run out 1)
Rafatullah made his ground first so Hafeez goes.
Wicket! Another comedy Pakistan run out
Hafeez drives to extra cover and takes the run. He comes back for the comfortable second, but Rafatullah has hesitated and turned back. Once again there are two batsmen jogging into the same end, while Eoin Morgan removes the bails at t’other.
Wicket! Shehzad b Willey 4
Shehzad has a rush of blood to the head and comes hurtling down the wicket, looking to batter the living daylights out of the ball. He misses completely and the ball clips the top of the stumps.
I would imagine the spinners will be key for England here. Steve Parry, with his willingness to take all the pace off the ball, could be a big miss.
Not a bad total from England after an awful start that saw them slip to 86 for six. Back in 10 or so.
20th over: England 154-8 (Willey 2, Jordan 0) Woakes’s fine innings – 37 from just 24 balls, comes to an end but he’s helped to propel England towards a competitive total. The second ball of the over is knocked away for a single, bringing the dangerous Willey on strike. Another single for him, as a bottom edge squirts past the stumps, then Vince tickles a sweep round the corner to fine leg for four. He goes to the penultimate ball, then Willey scrambles two from the last.
Wicket! Vince c Akmal b Tanvir 46
Vince waits on a slower ball and looks to smash it into the stands, but he can’t quite generate the power to clear the man back on the rope. He goes for 46 from 45 and WELL DONE JONATHAN WOOD.
Wicket! Woakes c Akmal b Tanvir 37
Woakes looks to smite it over midwicket but does not.
19th over: England 146-6 (Woakes 37, Vince 41) Irfan with the penultimate over. Woakes picks up two with a cleverly placed drive up and over cover, then smashes a drive along the ground to the same region for the single that takes the partnership to 50. Woakes has 37 of those from 23 balls. Vince gets in on the act now, waiting on a slower ball and slog-sweeping square to the boundary. A very strange moment next, when Vince turns and plays a delicate scoop shot straight into Rizwan’s gloves, but the keeper’s appeal is a strangled one and play continues. It continues with another six, as Vince picks one up off a length and dumps it into the crowd at square leg.
Jonathan Wood asks “I think James Vince has a lot of talent – but could this be the least impressive carrying of a bat ever in an international T20?” Come on Jonathan...
18th over: England 133-6 (Woakes 34, Vince 31) Anwar now to finish up his spell. He begins with a length ball and Woakes hits the biggest six of the night, clearing midwicket and bouncing off the roof and out the stadium! A pause ensues as we look for a replacement ball. Woakes digs out a good full ball for a single to backward point, then Anwar sends a woeful wide flying down leg. Another single, down the ground, then Woakes reaches for a very wide full one and drives it brilliantly, on his knees and square over point for six more! Single off the last makes 16 from the over.
17th over: England 117-6 (Woakes 20, Vince 30) Six! Irfan offers up a juicy half volley and Woakes hammers a cracking drive up, over mid off and into the stands. That was a nice fast half volley and Woakes was able to use the pace of the ball there. Irfan slows it down and tries the cutters, the first of which is chipped down the ground for two, the second called a wide outside off. Woakes cuts for one more before Vince does well to dig out a yorker, scoring the same in doing so. The last ball is full, in the slot and driven high in the air by Woakes off the bottom of the bat. It flies up in the air and three men converge under it at backward point, where Shehzad drops it badly.
16th over: England 105-6 (Woakes 10, Vince 29) The spinners are operating in one-over bursts too – Afridi on for his last. Just the five singles and he finishes with two for 19. That after taking three for 15 in the last time. England were rampant when he first came on and his might well be a match-winning spell.
15th over: England 100-6 (Woakes 7, Vince 27) The Pakistan seamers continue to operate in one-over bursts – Tanvir is back on – and who can argue with that? England are playing their shots like Nick Compton at Headingley 2013 now. Woakes gets four with a firm shot clubbed about a foot over the man at cover and flying to the fence. A single gets Vince back on strike, then Tanvir is unimpressed as a very slow bouncer beats the batsman’s attempted ramp shot only to be called a wide. Eight from the over, which constitutes a success for England.
14th over: England 92-6 (Woakes 2, Vince 26) Back comes Malik with another dose of off spin. Woakes punches his first ball down to long on for one, then Vince is done all ends up looking to walk down the pitch to smother the turn and very nearly losing his leg stump. One more out to deep backward square, a big leg side wide, and another clip square on the leg side take it to a mighty four off the over.
13th over: England 88-6 (Woakes 0, Vince 25) Another change in the bowling: Anwar back on now. He drops short and Billings pulls expertly, rolling the wrists and crunching it from outside off, through midwicket and away for four. He tries something similar next ball, but it’s a much better ball from Anwar and England, like Courtney Love are in (a) hole (you’ve no idea how much I wanted to make an inappropriate Kurt Cobain joke here). Woakes comes in at the non-striker’s end and watches Vince punch nicely through cover for a couple.
Wicket! Billings c Akmal b Anwar 7
Billings goes for the pull, but it was a touch too full and too straight for the shot. Off the top edge it comes, up in the air and Akmal takes it well at midwicket.
12th over: England 83-5 (Billings 3, Vince 23) Afridi returns and Vince gets lucky again, lofting a big drive up in the air to extra cover where it drops between the converging fielders. The Hawkeye replay of Malik’s lbw shout against Vince two overs ago confirms that he was absolutely plumb. Afridi fires one through Billing’s defence and gets him on the knee-roll, but a sizeable inside edge saves the batsman. Seven from the over, all in ones and twos.
11th over: England 76-5 (Billings 1, Vince 20) Vince has a big leaden-footed waft first up against Irfan and is lucky not to feather it behind. Looking at the replay of that lbw shout from Malik against Vince in the last over, the England opener is a very very lucky man. Some Pakistan-esque confusion in the middle sees Buttler back in the hutch, then there’s a big shout for a catch behind against Billings first ball as Irfan beats him with a cutter.
Wicket! Buttler run out 2
Vince tries to deposit it over square leg but can’t connect and the ball gets stuck in his clothing for a bit before dropping to the pitch. They think about the run, keep thinking, and keep thinking without ever really committing one way or another. Buttler eventually slides back towards the crease, but before the bat reaches it Rizwan has removed the bails.
10th over: England 73-4 (Buttler 2, Vince 18) More spin, but a change of bowler; Malik into the attack so Afridi can hold his own threat back. And what a decision it proves to be, as Malik removes the England captain with his first ball! Buttler plays and misses the reverse sweep first ball, exciting the fielders futilely. Just like in the ODI here, there’s a lot of turn and Malik finds a bit too much as he sends one down the leg side for a wide. A couple of singles, then there’s a huge shout for lbw off the last ball, though I think it struck Vince outside off.
Wicket! Morgan b Malik 15
Round the wicket and Morgan plays down the wrong line. I don’t think he was expecting as much turn as it pitched on leg and turned back to hit middle and off.
9th over: England 68-3 (Morgan 15, Vince 17) Morgan opens the over with a frankly ludicrous six: getting enough height and distance over midwicket to endanger some of the penthouse suite windows at the Burj Khalifa. He runs the next down to third man for a single, before Vince tries to force a boundary but can’t get his timing right. Just another one for him then. Anwar sends down a couple of short ones, the first a well-directed bouncer following Morgan as he backed away, the second taking the top edge as Morgan pulled but dropping safely to the turf at midwicket.
8th over: England 57-3 (Morgan 5, Vince 16) Afridi then, on a hat-trick, to Vince. The Hampshire man plays it sensibly, pushing out to midwicket for a single. Singles from every ball in the over, in fact, the fourth of which brings a run out appeal as third man hits the stumps with his throw, but Vince was more at home than Johnny Depp in a naff Tim Burton movie.
7th over: England 51-3 (Morgan 2, Vince 13) Well that was pretty handy for Pakistan, wasn’t it? Cap’n Morgan comes in with the powerplay done and a rebuilding job on his hands; Anwar Ali has the ball. A leg bye first up bringing Morgan on strike and he’s unable to get any of his first four balls away. The last one is knocked out to deep backward square for two.
6th over: England 48-3 (Vince 13) With this pair rampant, Afridi turns to himself and spin. He could be a tricky customer on this very skiddy, slightly dewy pitch. Indeed, he is hurrying the batsmen just a touch. Vince rocks back and hammers a pull in the air out to midwicket, where it’s fielded on the bounce, then Afridi takes out the dangerous Root. Already, you sense that’s a massive wicket given the touch Root looked to be in. Moeen is the new man... but not for very long.
“I’m not down with today’s youthspeak,” lies Ian Copestake, “but when Peter Miller stated that nearly every England player has ‘at least one FC hundred’ was he FC taking the proverbial?”
Wicket! Moeen c&b Afridi 0
Moeen gets his second duck in two innings in this series. He tries to pull his first ball, a skiddy, straight one, and hammers it straight back into the hands of the bowler.
Wicket! Root b Afridi 32
Lovely ball from Afridi, drifted in towards leg stump and picking up pace off the pitch to go through Root’s drive and knock out leg stump.
5th over: England 46-1 (Root 31, Vince 12) It’s a change of ends for Tanvir as he reenters the attack. He too serves up a juicy half volley, which Root hammers over mid off for four more. A lovely bit of timing sends the next ball through midwicket for a couple more – after that early loss of Roy, Root is looking in the mood to launch a bloody counterattack. Vince gets a couple as he whacks a drive straight to Afridi, but the ball spins off the Pakistan captain and Afridi has to chase it to the long off boundary. Four more flicked along the carpet and through midwicket off the last ball.
4th over: England 33-1 (Root 24, Vince 6) Mohammad Irfan – did you know he’s really tall? – comes into the attack and begins over the wicket to Vince, who gets a thick edge having a waft and sends it flying down to third man on the bounce for one. He drops short to Root and the batsman picks it up, sending a beautiful hook high over long leg for the first six of the match. Root’s three boundaries so far have all looked absolutely beautiful. His fourth is less aesthetically pleasing mind, a half volley outside off dispatched over extra cover, but not quite timed and bobbling to the fence. A full toss from the final ball is worked off the pads for a single.
3rd over: England 21-1 (Root 13, Vince 5) England won’t miss Ian Bell if Root continues to bat like this: back in the crease and sending as beautifully soft a cover drive as you’ll see caressing the turf all the way to the rope. Another single out to deep midwicket, then Roy is struck on the pad. The ball heading miles over and down leg though I’ll wager. Yamin is still finding some good movement back into the batsmen off the pitch. They run a leg bye, then Root whistles a beauty of a drive through mid on this time for four more.
2nd over: England 11-1 (Root 4, Vince 5) From the other end it’s Sohail Tanvir. Over the wicket, the left-armer starts with a big booming wide, swinging down the leg side and Rizwan – taking the gloves from Sarfraz today – can only parry it to square leg. England take a bye, then Vince knocks square into the leg side for a couple more. The next ball he pushes straight back to the bowler and, for the third time in this series, it’s a drop by Tanvir, the ball bursting back through his raised left hand in his follow through. A quick single brings Root back on strike and he works a wristy one round to square leg for a couple more. Root looks to punch through cover point by Shehzad makes an excellent stop diving to his right, saving at least two, probably four. One more from the last ball makes eight, all run, from the over.
Gareth Fitzgerald writes: “Hi Dan – which out of Jordan or Woakes do you find most rubbish?”
1st over: England 3-1 (Root 1, Vince 2) Aamer Yamin opens the bowling for Pakistan, with one slip in for Jason Roy. He doesn’t need him though, the newcomer striking with the very first ball of the match and his very first ball in international T20 cricket! Joe Root strides in at number three and gets off the mark with a push to backward point. Vince clumps it out to the same region for a couple, his top hand coming off the bat as he does so, then gets beaten all ends up by a lovely outswinger. Impressive start from Yamin.
Wicket! Roy lbw b Aamer 0
Roy goes first ball! Aamer gets it to nip back very sharply and skid through Roy’s defence. It thuds into the back pad in front of middle and leg and the batsman is on his way.
We are about to begin cricket! Well, the teams are anyway.
“Dan, your girlfriend is very wrong,” writes Manics fan Steve Johnson, riskily, “but enjoy that fact as it only happens every now and again. Love that tune, though perhaps it is somewhat influenced by the fact that hearing it takes me back to wasted afternoons in the mid-90s as a student in my local sat drinking ale with my mate from South Wales who used the free jukebox to play it repeatedly. It wasn’t a ‘student’ local but fortunately the inner-city locals didn’t seem to mind one bit.”
The first email of the day comes from Robert Wilson:
“Dear Dan, I know you’re far from knocking him, but Chris Jordan always feels to me like he’s mere inches away from being astonishingly good. He’s got the tiniest touch of the Malcom Marshalls about him in delivery stride and where he pitches it. Reminds me of Rashid too in that ooooh-so-close thing (he could be spectacular). I wonder if they would get that last inch if they just relaxed into their talent. Maybe a pre-match chill room or something? Tai-chi?”
I’d agree with you if he was a precocious 21-year-old, but the guy is 27 now. By the time he was Jordan’s age, Marshall had 188 Test wickets at 22ish to his name.
I’m not sure how relevant this is to T20 cricket, but it’s an impressive stat on the surface.
The teams in full
The ones posted before are a bit off; refresh the page for the correct ones.
1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Rafatullah Mohmand, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Aamer Yamin, 9 Anwar Ali, 10 Sohail Tanvir, 11 Mohammad Irfan
1 Jason Roy, 2 James Vince, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Sam Billings 8 Adil Rashid, 9 David Willey, 10 Chris Woakes, 11 Chris Jordan
Morgan is back in the side. Surprisingly, given the likelihood of the pitch turning, Parry misses out, as do Topley, Plunkett and Hales. No word on who comes in.
Shahid Afridi, looking for his side to avoid a whitewash, says there are three changes to the Pakistan side. “This is the last experiment before the World T20,” he says. Irfan, Rizwan and Aamer in.
England win the toss and bat first
For the third time in this series. No word on who actually tossed up for England, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t Eoin Morgan.
Sort-of team news
According to the Twitter rumour mill – scoff if you will, but it’s actually been pretty reliable through this series – Aamer Yamin and the Mohammads Irfan and Rizwan will come into the Pakistan side today.
Pre-toss musical interlude
You know my girlfriend – a Manics fan – isn’t keen on this one. She’s wrong, right?
Hello once again, folks. Today we stand on the verge of history: whereas once an England fan would only write WWWWW in a drunken bid to open a website, they can now enter that as their team’s current form in Twenty20 cricket. Five times in the past they have played a three-match series in the format; never have they completed a 3-0 whitewash. Pakistan have been pretty poor and it would take a brave person to bet against this talented, likeable young bunch of players – 2-0 to the good with just this match to go – completing a second white-ball series win of the tour.
Reading Vic Marks’ preview raises an interesting question. Just consider the following excerpt:
“It’s the sort of problem that the selectors like to have” is an observation trotted out whenever a side do well with key players missing. I’m never sure whether selectors really relish this situation that much. They like to know what constitutes their best side.
But it is better to be in a “How can we possibly leave him out?” frame of mind rather than a “Who the devil can we pick?” pickle. This is where England find themselves at the moment.
So I wondered: are England now better at limited overs cricket than they are at Tests?
Plenty have come in from the fringes and impressed during this series. James Vince, Sam Billings, Stephen Parry and Liam Plunkett have all contributed to the T20 series victory, while Jos Butter returned to form in the ODIs. Jason Roy and Alex Hales both notched white ball hundreds, too.
Contrast this with the Test squad for South Africa. Nick Compton, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Jonny Bairstow – the untested Mark Footitt and Alex Hales... none are without their merits, but do those names fill anyone with confidence before a series away to the world’s No1-ranked side? No, me neither. In fact, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking I’d be more surprised by a Test series win over there than I would by England going ahead and actually winning the whole World T20 in India next March.
Those who have watched England play limited overs cricket over the last, well, forever will read that assertion with some caution. A 3-0 series win over a side that sat at No2 in the ICC’s T20 rankings before this series might just give them pause for thought though.
Play begins at 4pm GMT, or 8pm local time. This one’s being played in Sharjah, where a grippy surface and slow outfield mean spin should be the weapon of choice and scores are likely to be lower. Toss and team news, as ever, in about half an hour or so.