Ben Stokes stars as England defeat Pakistan to win T20 World Cup after thrilling chase

Ben Stokes produced a magnificent half-century to inspire England to a five-wicket victory over Pakistan to win the T20 World Cup at the MCG in Melbourne.

Stokes, who scored 52 runs off 49 balls, guided his side past the target of 138 with six balls remaining, confirming England as the world’s dominant white-ball cricket side after winning the ODI World Cup in 2019.

If Stokes finished the job, he had England’s bowlers to thank after restricting Pakistan early on, with the player of the tournament Sam Curran continuing his magnificent form, taking three wickets for a measly 12 runs from four overs to hand England’s batters an enticing target.

“In finals, especially chasing, you forget all the hard work before that,” Stokes said. “I thought the way we bowled for our whole innings – Sam Curran and Adil Rashid – was what won us the game.

“That was a tricky wicket, it was one you never felt you were in on and there was a bit of bounce. To restrict them to 137, the bowlers have to take a lot of credit for that.”

The match did not start swimmingly for Stokes though, with the sense of the occasion at the MCG prompting a nervy opening to the contest. He delivered a no ball and a wide in the opening over, but Pakistan’s batters also suffered early, with Mohammad Rizwan hesitating between the wickets and Chris Jordan launching the ball towards the stumps for what would have been a clear run-out had contact been made.

England quickly seized the initiative though, with the brilliant Curran making the breakthrough by bowling Mohammad Rizwan, who dragged onto his own stumps.

In addition to Curran’s brilliance, Adil Rashid stepped up with a crucial performance that did serious damage to Pakistan’s hopes, with his masterful spell including a wicket maiden.

The leg spinner dug deep into his box of tricks, taking two wickets for 22 runs from his four overs. The highlight of the spell was a sensational googly and diving catch to remove captain Babar Azam.

And with Pakistan on the back foot, Stokes steamed in, Iftikhar Ahmed nibbled at a line-and-length delivery and captain Jos Buttler gleefully gobbled up the opportunity.

Despite an attractive target, England’s chase started poorly as Shaheen Shah Afridi clean-bowled Alex Hales to give Pakistan hope. But a defiant Buttler immediately responded with two fours off Naseem Shah.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pakistan then displayed immense character as Haris Rauf removed Phil Salt for a second powerplay wicket, leading to Stokes’ entrance. The volume at the MCG peaked when Haris Rauf seized the prized wicket of Buttler before Stokes combined with Harry Brook to ease the pressure.

There was more drama to come, however, and Shaheen Shah Afridi played a pivotal role: first taking a sublime catch to remove Brook, sliding after sprinting in from the deep. It left him injured and walking gingerly off the pitch for treatment. He would return and begin a final spell at the death, only to back out after one delivery and leave the game for good.

Iftikhar replaced Afridi and Stokes took two huge swipes, one for four and another for six. It inspired Moeen, too, who quickly added a couple of boundaries himself off the bowling of Mohammad Wasim.

England's Ben Stokes, right, celebrates hitting the winning runs (AP)
England's Ben Stokes, right, celebrates hitting the winning runs (AP)

Wasim would gain some kind of revenge, clean bowling Moeen in the final over of the innings, sending Liam Livingstone to the crease.

But it was too little too late and Stokes fittingly finished the match and the tournament with his first-ever T20 international half-century, dispatching Wasim to clinch a five-wicket victory and spark wild scenes of celebration in Melbourne, sealing England’s white-ball global dominance.