On a night of unfettered batting carnage in front of a packed-out Trent Bridge, Liam Livingstone smashed the records for England’s fastest T20 half-century and century – and still ended up on the losing side.
Livingstone, hair bleached blonde a la Phil Foden, smote a stunning 42-ball hundred – his first for England, and their fastest in any format – but fell next ball, looking for his 10th six. At that stage, they still needed 50 from 21 in their pursuit of Pakistan’s 232. They fell 32 short in an outstanding game.
Livingstone had brought up his half-century in 17 balls, breaking Eoin Morgan’s record of 21, and his hundred in 42, breaking Dawid Malan’s record by six. Jos Buttler saw his record of England’s fastest hundred in any format, 46 balls in an ODI, broken too.
Livingstone has secured his place on the plane to T20 World Cup, but his innings was not enough to win this game, which ended England’s unbeaten white-ball summer.
England experimented with their team, handing games to Lewis Gregory, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson on the back of ODI series, with Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid rested. There was a rare game for Moeen Ali, while Jos Buttler was not considered on the road back from a calf injury.
Pakistan made their highest score in T20 cricket, 232, which also asked England to pull off the highest-ever chase at Trent Bridge, an infamously high-scoring ground. One boundary was just 56 metres tonight.
Pakistan did not have their foot to the floor from the start, though. Babar Azam and especially Mohammad Rizwan took their time to set themselves. They had just 80 after 10 overs, with only two overs – one bowled by part-timer Liam Livingstone being taken for more than 10. It took until the 12th over, also bowled by Livingstone, to hit a six.
By the time they were done, though, Pakistan had hit 12 sixes. England had bowled well in the first half of the innings, but failed to take wickets – and it cost them. Rizwan caught up well, taking 30 from his first 27 balls, then 33 from his next 14. Babar’s rate was good throughout and soon motored.
The men batting between No3 and No5 were able to swing for the hills. Their strike rates were 271 (Sohaib Maqsood), 325 (Fakhar Zaman), and 240 (Mohammad Hafeez). England eventually dismissed all three, but the runs kept coming, and the figures became ugly. Tom Curran’s 16th over cost 18, and he was taken for four sixes overall. The 18th, from Mahmood, cost 22.
The figures of Parkinson, bowled through the middle, summed up the schizophrenic nature of the innings. His first two overs cost five and six. His second two cost 18 apiece. England were chasing 233, and will have felt it could have been worse. David Willey did well to go at under 10 runs an over.
England’s approach was totally different to Pakistan’s. Jason Roy launched 30 from his first 10 balls, including three sixes. The trouble was, by then, England had lost Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen.
Malan, promoted to open, was taking his time to settle when he prodded back to Shaheen Shah Afridi, who took a fine catch. Bairstow and Moeen were caught in the deep trying to go as hard as Roy. Mohammad Hasnain provided the wicket of Moeen in a fine showing that saw him leak just seven runs an over.
Out came Livingstone at No5. He attacked from the word go, with his assault sparked by a lucky outside edge for six. When Shadab Khan was brought on, he took him down. The trouble was that Roy, now starved of the strike, looked for the third six of the over and was caught in the deep, too.
Livingstone found a partner in Morgan, with whom he shared 51 in 30 balls. Morgan managed just 16 of them off 15 balls, which included a six a couple of balls before being dismissed by Imad Wasim. England, who had already hit 11 sixes, needed 100 from 50 balls.
Gregory stuck with Livingstone too, putting on 44, but the two men fell in an eventful Shadab over. It began with Gregory caught on the fence, then Livingstone brought up his century with a six before falling looking for another. Willey came out and launched a six of his own, too.
Curran was run out, capping an outstanding Pakistan fielding performance, and effectively ending England’s hopes. Willey raged away, but they lost a thrilling context.