Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid inspire England to series-levelling victory over Pakistan

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·3-min read
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Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali celebrate (Getty Images)
Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali celebrate (Getty Images)

A welcome return to form with bat and then ball from Moeen Ali inspired England to a series-levelling T20 victory over Pakistan, in another thrilling, run-soaked, sun-soaked game.

Moeen was at the heart of England’s 45-run victory, thanks to a lively innings of 36 from 16 balls, which contained seven boundaries, then playing his part in a three-pronged spin attack alongside the leg spinners Adil Rashid and Matt Parkinson. The trio shared five wickets in 11 overs.

England’s fourth spinner, Liam Livingstone, went unused with the ball but made a major mark on the match, but hitting the ball out of Headingley – at both ends with two of his three sixes. He is fast becoming indispensable.

Another young Lancastrian, Saqib Mahmood, made quite an impression too, with the key wicket of Babar Azam in the final over of the powerplay in Pakistan’s pursuit of 201, and two more at the death.

With the T20 World Cup in their sights, England are being almost obtusely experimental. That starts with selection – Eoin Morgan dropped himself, with Jos Buttler captaining, as one of three changes – while this is the first time they have ever picked twin frontline legspinners. It is seen in their batting order – Jonny Bairstow, normally No4, came in at No6 today, three places lower than Friday. And it is seen in their choice of bowlers, with some very interesting choices from Buttler, especially in the powerplay. This is a fact-finding mission.

Having been put in, England’s batting was impeccably on brand. They were bowled out – quite an effort in T20 – for exactly 200, with a ball of the innings to spare.

The intent was obvious from the first ball. Jason Roy hit 10 from the first three balls of the innings, then was one of two wickets to fall in the first three overs. The other was Dawid Malan, who followed one off six at Trent Bridge with one off five. Even with his superb record, he will want a big game in Tuesday’s decider.

Buttler and Moeen, who blazed four boundaries from the final four balls of the powerplay, did not mind. The score flew from 28 after four overs to 81 after seven. Moeen was in delightful touch, scything and pulling the seamers, before slog-sweeping Shadab Khan’s spin for six.

Moeen’s ultra-aggressive innings ended when he miscued a punch down the ground off Mohammad Hasnain. Liam Livingstone, fresh from his century at Trent Bridge, shared another fifty stand with Buttler, who made his 10th half-century since moving to open the batting. He did so from 33 balls, despite barely taking a risk. The only airborne boundaries were his two sixes, a ramp off Hasnain and the clobbering of an Imad Wasim short ball.

Three wickets in three overs slowed England’s charge, though. Buttler tried to clear mid-off, while Bairstow’s fizzing cameo ended when he was caught on the fence. Livingstone was dismissed in peculiar fashion, run out by Tom Curran after his slog failed. The disappointment was palpable, not least for Livingstone, as Haris Rauf knocked one bail off with his leg before affecting the run out.

That left England 164 for six but the tail, led by Chris Jordan, charged on to 200. That looked a solid score, but not impregnable, especially as Pakistan made a good start. Babar and Mohammad Rizwan ticked along freely, making Mahmood’s removal of the captain vital.

The reintroduction of Rashid – who had bowled the opening over – saw the wickets begin to tumble. He had Sohaib Maqsood stumped, and dived brilliantly to his left to catch Rizwan off his own bowling. Moeen deepened Pakistan’s trouble by dismissing Mohammad Hafeez and Fakhar Zaman in the same over, while Matt Parkinson was well worth his wicket: Azam Khan stumped slogging. It was all over bar the inevitable streaker, who showed up eventually as England eased to victory.

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