Pakistan 166 for 4 (Rizwan 88) beat England 163 (Rauf 3-32, Nawaz 3-350 by three runs
Pakistan sneaked home past England by three runs in a wild, mad game at the National Stadium in Karachi to level the series 2-2. In a game that ebbed and flowed so often that a three-hour contest took on the feel of an epic, England played themselves into a seemingly unassailable position at the very end, before all of a sudden playing themselves back out of it. In pursuit of 167, the visitors were one shot away from victory with three wickets in hand, before Haris Rauf tore through the lower order to leave a heartbroken England stranded against all odds.
Put in to bat first, Pakistan got off to an impressive start with an 97-run opening stand, but found themselves squeezed through the middle and death, losing much of the momentum they had built up. Liam Dawson's removal of Babar Azam looked even better in hindsight, given it brought a struggling Shan Masood to the crease, and Moeen Ali's side wrestled the momentum back. At the end of their 20 overs, it appeared as if Pakistan were well short, having burdened their bowling attack with defending a mediocre total against the world's most explosive batting line-up.
But the hosts refused to give in, with three early wickets ensuring this wouldn't be the cakewalk it had previously seemed. But England soon illustrated the difference in the approach both sides take to the construction of a T20 innings, with Harry Brook and Ben Duckett continuing to go after the bowlers, determined not to fall too far behind the asking rate. Moeen continued in quite the same vein for a 20-ball 29, and for a while, it looked like the jitters were over, and England were back on course.
But the regular fall of wickets kept Pakistan in the hunt, until a devastating display of clutch hitting by Dawson in the 18th over seemed to swing the pendulum England's way once and for all. But having cracked five fours and a six in the space of eight legal deliveries to leave just five required off nine, a loose shot by Dawson found midwicket's hands, and Rauf sent debutant Olly Stone packing by knocking back his off stump first-ball. With one wicket to go, England lost their composure, setting off for a suicidal single in desperation to give Adil Rashid the strike. Shan Masood hit timber, and Pakistan had struck gold.
Having laid the platform Babar and Mohammad Rizwan can reliably be trusted to set so regularly, Pakistan had worked themselves into a decent position after eight overs. However, as has happened much too frequently, the struggle through the middle overs manifested itself for Pakistan once more, as they sleepwalked towards a below-par total. England's use of their bowling resources, as well as their execution, was canny enough, but the drop in intensity from the hosts was unmistakable. Masood couldn't come close to the fluency with which he had graced the third T20I, limping to a 19-ball 21 as the bigger hitters waited their turn in the dig-out.
Rizwan's tempo dropped by a couple of notches following the Powerplay; having raced along to a 26-ball 38 after six overs, he would take 40 balls to add the next fifty. From the start of the ninth over until his dismissal in the 20th, Pakistan struck just three fours and a six. Quite what Asif Ali would have made of that was anyone's guess, particularly since two of the three balls he did face went for enormous sixes over cow corner. Pakistan, once more, appeared to have made the fundamental T20 error of overvaluing wickets and undervaluing runs.
England stick to their guns
After being reduced to 14 for three against Pakistan's bowling attack, few sides would have had the self-belief to go after the game, but seven years of white-ball success means confidence isn't in short supply for this England side. They would chase this total down, or go down in a blaze of glory trying. It wouldn't be like it had been for Pakistan the previous game, batting out 20 overs and limping to a heavy defeat.
The first ball after the third wicket fell, Duckett carved Mohammad Wasim through point for four, and at the end of the fifth, he took apart the same bowler, smashing him for three successive boundaries. By the end of the Powerplay, England had brought up 50, just two the total that Pakistan managed despite England failing to pick up a single Pakistan wicket in that time. It was emblematic of how England play, and, despite the agonising defeat, perhaps illustrative of why this side has been so successful.
The promise and pain of Mohammad Hasnain
An overseas player getting plaudits for being the sort of sexy quick bowler Pakistan like to believe they have a hegemonic hold over? That was too much for Mohammad Hasnain to bear. Hasnain's arguably the fastest bowler Pakistan currently possess but, in a weird way, also the least loved. Shaheen Afridi, of course, is in a league of own, while Naseem Shah has the precocious talent to enthrall and the personal story to endear, while Rauf's evolution has seen him prove many wrong and win even more over.
It leaves Hasnain out in the cold slightly, particularly so since his action troubles and a tendency to be expensive. Today, however, needing to defend a low target, Hasnain bowled his first two overs with the careless abandon that makes him such absorbing viewing. He followed Alex Hales and beat him for pace. He toyed with Duckett. He came back in the 16th over, and more or less pulled off six successive yorkers. 3-0-16-2. Surely his day?
He was brought back for the 18th over to close the game off, with Pakistan well into England's tail at 134 for 7, and Dawson struggling on a run-a-ball 7. But where the margins had gone Hasnain's way in the third over, they left Hasnain high and dry here when it counted. Yorkers became full tosses and half-volleys, and where he had once stayed just within the popping crease, this time he overstepped. 22 came off his first four legal balls, and all of a sudden, England needed just 10 from 14. Hasnain might have played a huge part in getting Pakistan to the brink, but suddenly, here he was, unravelling it all himself. Fortunately for him, and for Pakistan, and for a vociferous Karachi crowd that had just begun to give up the ghost, Rauf was not prepared to do likewise.