England ended their summer of white ball with a thrilling victory in their decisive Twenty20 match against Pakistan, with Adil Rashid claiming the best career numbers before his side returned home in a grueling chase.
For the second game in a row, the hosts strangled their opponents with a rotation, with Rashid pushing through at four for 35 and Moeen Ali with a miser for 19 as Pakistan missed at 154 for six.
A flurry from Jason Roy (64 in 36 balls) made England the favorite, but Pakistan pushed him back with regular wickets and he fell to number eight Chris Jordan to sprint for the winning races with just two deliveries and three remaining counters.
Returning captain Eoin Morgan had competed with a quick 21 as the pressure peaked at death, while rising star Liam Livingstone had only faced two deliveries – crushing one for six, l ‘other.
The victory meant a 2-1 score in England’s favor and ensured they have now won all four of their limited series in recent weeks.
Beating first, Pakistan made 40 on their first five overs, Mohammad Rizwan finding their lineup early with sixes from Saqib Mahmood and Jordan.
But his partner, the always reliable Babar Azam, was not himself, struggling for timing, fighting for the strike and ultimately struggling to choose Rashid’s googly as he fell into a textbook.
Sohaib Maqsood started off confidently, sending two of his first four Rashid balls to the ropes, but when the battle resumed after a change of sides the result was decisive. Looking for a big blow to the ground, Maqsood could only choose Roy for the long term.
Even when Rashid got it wrong, he did well, with middle order veteran Mohammad Hafeez firing a forehand at Jonny Bairstow with a deep square leg three balls later.
Pakistan had drifted to 69 for three in the ninth, with one man to blame for their plight.
Rizwan was unaffected, bearing his bat for 76 steps, but with the ball grabbing Moeen and Livingstone took full control.
Moeen worked through his four overs of precise breaks without a single conceded limit, capping his stingy spell with a lbw against Fakhar Zaman (24).
Surprisingly, Rashid had never taken four wickets in a T20 International before, but rectified that with his final delivery as Shadab Khan hid.
After a cautious start against Imad Wasim’s rotation, Roy made a statement by removing four limits from Shaheen Shah Afridi’s opening, using a compelling combination of power and placement.
Jos Buttler struggled on the other end, missing two attempts to paddle Hasan Ali and dragging Imad past his leg stump, before Roy cleared things up with a straight six and a spinner swept four.
England appeared to be on cruise when Roy showed sweeps on both sides of the wicket to steal 15 from Usman Qadir’s first move, but it was not yet a done deal.
First, Buttler’s mercy murder on the 21st, a messy stunt ending in a messy Shadab hack, then Roy’s vital wicket.
A streak of perfect sweeps had taken him to half a century of 30 balls and beyond, but he lost focus and raised Qadir to the highest level with 63 still needed. Suddenly they needed a calm head.
Neither Bairstow nor Moeen were able to oblige, with one failing to clear halfway through, the other knocked down by Hafeez on a savage charge. With four overs remaining, 39 were needed, and with three remaining, only 29 were left.
Enter Morgan, who had sent before the man of the moment Livingstone. On two occasions he chose his moment against Hasan Ali and on two occasions he sent the ball spiraling into the stands for six. It should have been enough but the end was pure drama.
Dawid Malan, who never started in his 31st, was beaten by Hafeez, allowing Livingstone to make his remarkable and brief appearance. After hitting the top miles from his first bullet, he pulverized the next third man.
Even Morgan couldn’t rise above the tension, held in the Depths immediately after being let loose, but two harsh hits from Jordan’s bat fixed the issues.