MELBOURNE: All-rounder Ben Stokes held his nerves strong to cruise England to their second T20 World Cup victory as they defeat Pakistan by five wickets in the final, here at MCG on Sunday.
Set to chase 138, England completed the tricky run chase in 19 overs despite a strong attack put up by the Pakistan bowling department, thanks to their all-rounder Stokes, who powered his side to victory at the back of his brilliant half-century.
England were off to a poor start to their run chase as they lost their in-form opener, Alex Hales, in the first over, courtesy of a magnificent in-swinger by Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Jos Buttler and Harry Brook then attempted to anchor the run chase with a scratchy 25-run partnership for the second wicket but Haris Rauf struck in his first over to break the budding partnership as he removed the latter for just 10.
Haris then struck in his next over to put an end to Buttler’s struggling knock, who could manage to score 26 off 20 deliveries.
With England 45/3 in the sixth over, Stokes then stitched two vital partnerships with Harry Brook (20) and Moeen Ali (19) and added 39 and 48 runs for the fourth and fifth wicket respectively.
Pakistan bowlers did their best to keep England at bay of making errors but Shaheen’s injury in the 13th over that forced him to leave the field after bowling the first delivery of his third over turned the dynamics of the game as Stokes attacked Pakistan’s part-timer Iftikhar Ahmed and stole 13 vital runs off just five deliveries.
England then needed just 28 runs off the last four overs and Stokes displayed his experience to maintain the attack as he targeted Mohammad Wasim Jr in the 17th over, who leaked 16 runs.
With 12 required in 18 deliveries, Stokes held his nerves calm and steered his side to second T20 World Cup glory with six balls to spare.
The left-handed batter top-scored for England with an unbeaten 52 off 49 deliveries, laced with five boundaries and a six.
Haris led the bowling attack for Pakistan with two wickets, while Shaheen, Shadab and Wasim Jr made one scalp each.
Sam Curran starred with impressive bowling figures of 3/12 as England bowlers ran through the batting line to restrict Pakistan to 137/8.
Leg spinner Adil Rashid spun out young sensation Mohammad Haris and skipper Babar Azam before Sam Curran and Chris Jordan wreaked havoc at the death, jointly offering just 18 runs while taking four wickets in the last four overs.
Shan Masood top-scored for Pakistan with a skilful knock of 38 off 28, laced with two fours and a six while Babar contributed 32 off 28.
Pakistan recovered well from early scares as skipper and Shan raised a valiant 39-run partnership on the third wicket, taking the scoreboard to 84/2 in 11 overs before Rashid got rid of Babar with a brilliant googly.
Iftikhar Ahmed went back on a duck after facing six deliveries before Shan built another strong partnership (36 off 25) with no. 5 batter Shadab Khan steering Pakistan to 121/4 before the former fell prey to Curran in the 17th over.
Pakistan went through a lower-order collapse following Shan’s dismissal as the next three wickets fell in quick succession.
Apart from Curran’s brilliance, Rashid and Jordan took two scalps each while Ben Stokes grabbed a wicket too.
Earlier, Openers Babar and Mohammad Rizwan trod cautiously on a seam-friendly surface before England had the first breakthrough in the fifth over as Curren bowled out the wicket-keeper batter while he was trying to drag the outside the off-stump ball.
Energetic young batter Mohammad Haris was tested by England’s furious pace attack before he was dismissed Rashid after managing mere 8 runs off 12 balls.