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England squeeze home with two balls to spare in series-clinching thriller.

England squeeze home with two balls to spare in series-clinching thriller.

England’s spinners held sway as Eoin Morgan’s side clinched the Vitality T20 International series 2-1 with a three-wicket final-over victory against Pakistan in an electric atmosphere at a packed Emirates Old Trafford.

A career-best four-wicket haul by Adil Rashid and a tight economical spell from Moeen Ali built the platform for England to chase down a target of 165, and in a thrilling finale they made it just two balls to spare after Player of the Match Jason Roy struck an impressive 64 on a night where run-scoring was far from easy on a wicket that encouraged pace being taken off the ball.

Roy struck 4 fours off Shaheen in the second over then smashed Imad Wasim for six over long-on as England raced away to a quick start hitting 45 runs in the powerplay.

Buttler twice reverse swept Shadab Khan for four but fell for 21 to the same bowler after lofting a catch to Babar Azam at long-on with England 76-1 after 8 overs.

Roy reached his half-century off 30 balls with a fierce pull to square leg for his tenth boundary and had added three more fours before another attempted slog-sweep off leg spinner Usman Qadir went spiralling to Fakhar Zaman at long-off to give Pakistan some hope at 92-2 towards the end of the 11th over.

That hope soared when Jonny Bairstow skied Imad Wasim to Sohaib Maqsood at short cover for 5 and Ali was bowled by Hafeez for 1 to leave England needing 43 off 30 balls.

But Dawid Malan, who held the innings together with 31 off 33 balls and Morgan combined effectively to steer England towards their target, but it was far from a straightforward finish as Pakistan pushed England all the way.

In a dramatic finish Morgan twice hit Hasan Ali for six over midwicket in the 18th over to leave 16 needed from the last two overs before Malan was bowled by Hafeez.

Incredibly Liam Livingstone hit his first ball over long-on for six but was caught at short third man by Maqsood off Hafeez (3-28) from the next ball.

That left six needed off a tense final over bowled by Hasan who dropped a skied chance from Morgan off the first ball with 2 runs scored.

Morgan was caught by Shadab for 21 off the next delivery after miscuing a pull to mid-on, but Chris Jordan then took two off each of the third and fourth balls to seal the win in a thrilling finish.

Earlier a fine unbeaten half century by Mohammad Rizwan had enabled Pakistan to post 154-6 from their 20 overs after winning the toss.

Rizwan drove David Willey down the ground for the first six in the 3rd over before pulling Saqib Mahmood high over deep backward square in the 5th.

Three wickets for Rashid slowed the early Pakistan onslaught.

The leg spinner made the initial breakthrough with his second delivery when Babar was bamboozled by a googly and easily stumped by Buttler for 11 in the 6th over to break the opening partnership at 41.

Rashid then tempted Sohaib, on 13, into driving at a tossed up delivery that the batsman hit straight to Roy at long-on before having Mohammad Hafeez caught for 1 by Bairstow at deep square leg three balls later.

That left Pakistan on 69-3 after 11 overs but Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman rebuilt the innings with a 45-run partnership in 7 overs before left-hander Fakhar was lbw, on review, to Ali for 24 with Pakistan 114-4 in the 16th over.

That was just reward for a fine four over spell of 1-19 by Moeen during which he conceded no boundaries to stifle Pakistan’s attempt to push on during the middle overs.

Rizwan hit his third maximum off Rashid in the following over but the leg spinner ended his excellent four over stint with a fourth wicket when Shadab found Livingstone at deep midwicket for 2 with Pakistan 125-5 after 17 overs, the bowler returning his best figures of 4-35 in a T20 international.

Imad was carelessly run out for 2 but Hasan, 1 six, 1 four, helped Rizwan add 29 from the final three overs, the opener finishing unbeaten on 76 from 57 balls but starved of the strike during the closing overs.

It was a fine effort by Rizwan who hit 3 sixes and 5 fours and held the Pakistan together but found little support until that final flourish.

Ken Grime
Photos: Getty Images

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