Babar, Rizwan add 150 for first wicket, before Shaheen Shah Afridi stars with three wickets
Pakistan 232 for 6 (Azam 85, Rizwan 63) beat England 201 (Livingstone 103, Afridi 3-30) by 31 runs
Liam Livingstone’s quickest T20I century was in vain as Pakistan prevailed by 31 runs at Trent Bridge to take a 1-0 lead in their three-match series.
With a 150-run opening partnership, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan drove Pakistan to their highest T20I total of 232 for 6, their second-highest for any wicket in any format.
It meant England needed to break their previous best T20I score while chasing, and Livingstone did everything he could to help them get there, his 42-ball century beating Dawid Malan’s 48-ball century against New Zealand in 2019. But, as a result of his dismissal,They were bowled out for 201 runs. Livingstone hit nine sixes and six fours, but Pakistan’s bowlers continued to take wickets at frequent enough intervals after reducing England to 48 for 3 to impair the hosts’ run rate, which had been superior for large spells.With 3 for 30 off 3.2 overs, Shaheen Shah Afridi was the pick of the bowlers, and he was also brilliant in the field.
Pakistan did not have a promising start. On the contrary, they were 49 for 0 at the end of the powerplay, and their first six didn’t come until the 12th over. They went on to score a total of 12 goals, equaling Pakistan’s 2007 record against Bangladesh.
By the end of the eighth over, Rizwan was still scoring at a run a ball, but the 12th over, when he and Azam both hit sixes off Matt Parkinson in the space of three balls, signalled a shift in momentum. Even after Azam fell for a 49-ball 85 and Rizwan for 63 from 41, Pakistan scored 152 runs in the last 10 overs, with their middle order keeping the momentum.
Azam on a roll
Before James Vince and Lewis Gregory trumped his 158, Azam continued his great form and helped Pakistan from being whitewashed 3-0 in the ODI series. In the third over of the contest, he hit three successive fours off David Willey, directing him through the covers before advancing down the pitch to send the ball over long-on and then flicking the ball through midwicket with impeccable timing.He survived an England plea for lbw on the last ball of the over and their following review when he was given not out, with replays showing the ball was missing leg stump.Livingstone was sent on in the ninth over by Eoin Morgan, but it backfired when he gave up 11 runs, including back-to-back fours to Rizwan. Parkinson’s 12th over yielded 18 runs, with Azam smashing a shot over midwicket and Rizwan bowling flat and hard in the same direction.In a total of eight fours, Azam went over the fence at long-on twice more, off Parkinson and Gregory. Finally, he was bowled swinging by Willey’s wide, full delivery, which Jonny Bairstow collected behind the stumps. England’s review was successful when UltraEdge revealed a distinct spike for bat on ball, which was initially adjudged not out.
Sohaib Maqsood scored 19 runs off seven balls, Fakhar Zaman 26 runs off eight balls (including three sixes off Saqib Mahmood in the 18th over), and Mohammad Hafeez 24 runs off ten to keep Pakistan on track.
Catches, winning matches and all that
At the end of the powerplay, England were far ahead of the needed run rate, having scored 20 more runs than Pakistan up to that point, but wickets were a problem, thanks to some great fielding from the visitors.
As he leapt forward on his follow-through to collect the ball low to the ground, Afridi’s gem of a return catch sent Malan packing for just 1. In comparison, Imad Wasim’s catch to dismiss Bairstow, who was also off Afridi, was simple, but then came Haris Rauf’s amazing performance at cow corner to remove Moeen Ali.Moeen could only watch as Rauf – and Maqsood – were lucky not to be hurt as they both went for the ball after having skied Mohammad Hasnain in that area. Rauf landed in Maqsood’s lap after leaping with two hands and both collapsing to the ground, Rauf crucially clutching the ball to leave England on 48 for three.
Livingstone lights it up
Jason Roy appeared to be England’s most likely big scorer, scoring 32 off just 13 balls as wickets fell all around him. Livingstone stepped in when Roy was out edging Shadab Khan to Azam at deep point. Livingstone, who was playing in only his sixth international T20, sped to a half-century off just 17 balls, making it England’s fastest fifty in T20Is.
As he pummelling nine sixes in total, his striking was flawless and his strength was enormous. Hasnain sent Rauf into the stands over deep square leg after seeing him flick his leading edge over the rope at third man. Shadab’s long-hops were punished by Livingstone, who then punched him down twice more.His drive into the stands at Cow Corner off Rauf put him on 97 off 41 and put him within striking distance of England’s record. Livingstone’s final long-distance drive across Shadab to bring up his hundred was to be his last. He skied the next ball in the same direction as the previous one, but this time he picked out Afridi on the boundary’s edge. The job was too much for England’s tail, who needed 44 off the last three overs.With England’s Eoin Morgan stating that the series would be used to examine marginal players ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year, Livingstone demonstrated that he is far from “fringe.”