Hales, bowlers power England to seal series opener against Pakistan

Source: AFP

KARACHI: England veteran batter Alex Hales marked his international return with a match-winning half-century after the bowlers bounced back to restrict Pakistan to a paltry total to power the touring side to an opening victory in the historic seven-match T20I series.

Set to chase 159, England comfortably steered to victory in the final over for the loss of four wickets.

The touring side had a deplorable start to the run chase as their opener Phil Salt fell cheaply for 10 in the third over and could put on a brief opening stand of 19 with Hales.

Hales then joined hands with Dawid Malan and carried the proceedings for England as the pair added 34 runs for the second wicket before the latter fell victim to Usman Qadir after scoring 20.

Ben Duckett then put on a brief partnership with Hales and added 35 runs for the third wicket before falling short to Usman while attempting to play a reverse sweep. He scored 21 off 17 deliveries including two boundaries.

Following the slump, Harry Brook joined hands with Hales in the middle and put on a match-defining partnership before the latter fell in the 17th over briefly after amassing his ninth T20I fifty. He top-scored for England with 53 off 40 deliveries, laced with seven boundaries.

Brook, on the other hand, held his ground firm and made sure to power England over the line with an astonishing match-winning knock. He scored a quickfire 42 off a mere 25 deliveries with the help of seven boundaries.

Usman was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan as he bagged two wickets for 36, while Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani made one scalp each.

At the toss of the first T20I, England stand-in captain Moeen Ali put Pakistan into bat first after the coin flipped in his favour.

Batting first, Pakistan were off to a flying start as openers Babar Azam and Rizwan amassed 85 runs for the first wicket at a rapid pace.

The stand was majorly dominated by Rizwan as he was scoring with a healthy strike rate, while Babar, who was struggling to find the rhythm despite playing some magnificent drives, fell to Adil Rashid in the 10th over, courtesy of an astonishing googly. The right-handed batter scored 31 off 24 deliveries, laced with three boundaries.

The top-ranked T20I batter Rizwan remained unaffected by Babar’s dismissal as he continued to keep the scoreboard ticking single-handedly while Haider Ali could score a snail-paced 11.

England skipper Moeen then struck in the next over to add to the misery of the home side as he bagged the all-important wicket of Rizwan, who top-scored for the side with 68 off 46 deliveries, laced with six boundaries and two sixes.

Debutant Shan Masood’s stay also remained brief at the crease as he could score a run-a-ball seven and Pakistan, as a result, slipped to 120/4 in the 16th over.

All-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed then put on a fight with a gritty knock of 28 off 17 deliveries with the help of three sixes.

The rest of the batters, however, failed to make an impact as England’s bowling line-up did tremendously well to restrict the hosts to 158/7 in the allotted 20 overs.

Debutant pacer Luke Wood led the way for England with three wickets, while Adil bagged two. Moeen and Sam Curran, on the other hand, struck out a batter each.

The action-filled T20I series is being streamed on the digital platform of ARY Digital Network – ARY ZAP in crystal clear HD quality.