A magnificent 112-run stand between Eoin Morgan (66) and Dawid Malan (54*) helped England thrash Pakistan by five wickets in the second T20 International (T20I) at Old Trafford, Manchester on Sunday. With this win, England went 1-0 up in the three-match series. This was the highest successful T20I run-chase against Pakistan and also the second highest successful chase in England.
In reply to Pakistan's 195 for 4, Tom Banton and Jonny Bairstow got England off to an excellent start. They were even willing to take on Imad Wasim, who played a huge role in choking them in the first six overs in the previous game. After putting Imad away, Bairstow then took on Mohammad Amir smashing him for a four and a six off his first two deliveries. England brought up their fifty in the fifth over itself and had put themselves in an ideal position to chase the target down. They eventually scored 65 without losing a wicket in the powerplay, which is their third highest score in the first six overs since 2019.
Just like it did for England, bringing on a leg-spinner worked right away for Pakistan too as Shadab Khan removed both the openers in successive deliveries - first Bairstow for 44 and then Banton for 20 - to bring his side back into the game. Morgan had a lucky escape after Pakistan reviewed an LBW decision against him, but survived only because the impact turned out to be umpire's call, despite the ball hitting the wickets. However, Shadab's over had not just brought two new batsman at the crease but had also rattled England, who bat quite deep.
England managed to reach the halfway stage without losing anymore wickets, but needed 102 runs more to win from there. Morgan and Malan then built an excellent partnership, bringing up their fifty partnership off just 33 deliveries - a much needed one. The partnership kept ticking along well and Pakistan were finding it difficult to control the run flow. The required run-rate was reduced to nine an over from the last six and with eight wickets in hand, they were the favourites. Morgan brought up his fifty off just 27 balls and was determined to see England home.
Malan and Morgan brought up their 100-run stand off just 57 deliveries and it looked to be just a matter of time before they saw England home.The 112-run stand came to an end when Morgan found the fielder at deep square leg for 33-ball 66. England needed less than run-a-ball from there. But Shadab picked up yet another wicket - his third - when he had Moeen Ali caught at mid-wicket for a single to give Pakistan a ray of hope.
However, England kept their cool and despite losing Sam Billings for 10, they eventually chased the target down with five balls to spare.
Earlier, fifties from Babar Azam (56) and Mohammad Hafeez (69) propelled Pakistan to 195 for 4. This was also Pakistan's highest total in the shortest format against England. Pakistan had lost just once when they have put on 190 or more in T20Is, which was against Australia in the 2010 World T20.
Babar got things off to a quick start scoring a boundary off the very first ball of the match. With left-handed batsman Fakhar Zaman at the crease Morgan opted to bring on an off-spinner - Moeen Ali - into the attack in the second over of the match. However, that did not reap any dividends. On what looked like a batting track, Morgan ensured that the batsmen did not settle in quickly and introduced four bowlers in the first four overs of the innings.
Pakistan played risk-free cricket and went on to go past 50 in the powerplay, making this the fourth instance since 2019 they have done so. However, this was the first time they had not lost a single wicket in the first six overs since 2019.
Adil Rashid was introduced straight after the fielding restrictions were lifted and he got a lot of purchase from the wicket. Zaman, who had batted beautifully and already hit a six, looked to clear the fence again, but hit it straight down the throat of long-on for a 22-ball 36. That brought an end to the well crafted 72-run opening wicket stand. Zaman's wicket was also only the second instance Rashid got the wicket of a left-handed batsman in the middle overs since 2019.
Babar kept going and brought up his 14th T20I fifty off just 36 deliveries. Mohammad Hafeez became the second Pakistan player to 2,000 runs with a six off Saqib Mahmood. Soon after that Babar perished for 56, giving Rashid his second wicket.
Once Babar fell, Hafeez took charge and started playing some extravagant shots. In the 16th over, he tore Tom Curran, who had picked up a wicket every 7.7 deliveries at the death before this match - hitting him for a couple of sixes and a four in the over. That over yielded 23 runs and Pakistan had their eyes set on at least 185-190 from there.
The duo of Hafeez and Malik - with more than 4,000 T20I runs between them, put on 50 off just 25 deliveries to give Pakistan the chance to post a huge total on the board. However, Malik in a bid to find the fence, could not get the ball over the man at covers and was caught for 14.
Hafeez, however, did not let England off the hook, bringing up his fifty off just 26 deliveries. He was relentless and scored a boundary at every possible opportunity. Pakistan scored 63 runs from the final five overs that eventually got Pakistan past 190.
It was England who had won the toss and opted to field. The decision from Morgan was not that surprising as the team chasing had won four out of the five completed matches at Old Trafford. England and Pakistan went in with the same team for this match.
The third and final T20I will be played at the same venue on Tuesday.
Pakistan 195 for 4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 69, Babar Azam 56; Adil Rashid 2 for 32, Chris Jordan 1 for 41) lost to England 199 for 5 in 19.1 overs (Eoin Morgan 66, Dawid Malan 54*; Shadab Khan 3 for 34, Haris Rauf 2 for 34) by 5 wickets.
Player of the match: Eoin Morgan