A typically superb 52 from 49 balls from England test captain Ben Stokes, helped England beat Pakistan by five wickets in the final of the T20 World Cup final.
The new world champions England won the toss in Melbourne and opted to bowl first. It would be a crucial toss to win as The Three Lions, through Sam Curran (3-12 off four overs) and Adil Rashid (2-22 of four overs), helped restrict Pakistan.
On what was a difficult misbehaving pitch, Pakistan’s batsmen struggled with their timing. The dismissals of several of the Pakistani top order epitomised this.
To their credit on what was a challenging pitch, Pakistan after 4.1 overs were 29-0, but when Sam Curran opened the flood gates, by bowling Mohammed Rizwan.
The dismissal of the Pakistan wicket-keeper batsmen, although fortunate, to their credit England thoroughly deserved all that happened after that thereafter.
Liam Livingstone, although expensive in his sole over that he bowled, didn’t drop any catches and snuffed three well-taken catches. Two wickets would crucially fall with one being scored.
When Pakistan, who are usually so good in the power play, saw tumble, one couldn’t help but think the 2009 World T20 champions were at least 10-15 runs short.
Having said that though, Pakistan’s bowling attack had been superb throughout the tournament. Babar Azam’s men would finish on 137-8, with the Pakistan captain top-scoring with 38 for the men in green.
To win the World Cup for a second time, England need just 138, but against a varied attack like Pakistan’s, it wasn’t going to be easy. What was a potentially challenging total, became more difficult when Alex Hales was bowled by Shaheen Shah Afridi for one.
When Phil Salt (10) and Buttler (26) both lost their wicket not too far from each other, just maybe Pakistan could pull off what would be a big shock and win the World Cup for a second time.
Harry Brook (20), would fall off the bowling of Shadab, but this is where the game would turn. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan would take the wicket, but Afridi, would take the catch and injure his knee in the process.
The injury to Pakistan’s talisman would be crucial, as part-time off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed who only bowled five balls was hit for 13. Stokes who was up against Iftikhar, masterfully attacked the Pakistani all-rounder, and it was arguably after this over, that saw the game swung in the favour of Jos Buttler’s side.
So it proved, as Ben Stokes who helped England squeeze past Sri Lanka to get through to the semi-finals, would help his country again when it mattered most.
Pakistan might have dismissed Moeen Ali (19) bowled off the bowling of Mohammed Waseem, but at that stage, it was merely a consolation wicket. Fittingly it would be Stokes who would hit the winning runs, to cap off a good individual performance.
As for Pakistan, they come up agonisingly short in a crucial knockout game. Let’s not take anything away from England, they were superb in this final. In the process of winning the World T20 title.
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