DUBAI: A new-look England beat clumsy Pakistan by 14 runs in the first Twenty20 international to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series in Dubai on Thursday (Nov 26).
England scored a challenging 160-5 in their 20 overs with Sam Billings hitting a maiden half century before Pakistan were bowled out for 146 off the last ball in another rollercoaster batting display at Dubai stadium.
It was an impressive performance by England considering they rested master blaster Jos Buttler and dependable Joe Root, opting instead to give new players a chance.
Sohail Tanvir, who top scored with 25 not out, added 25 for the eighth wicket with Anwar Ali (20) and 45 for the ninth with Wahab Riaz (21) to give England a scare but 20 runs off the last over proved too much for Pakistan’s tail.
With a modest eight runs an over chase Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals after losing Sarfraz Ahmed (one) and Mohammad Hafeez for seven. Raffatullah Mohamand made 16 and Mohammad Rizwan six.
Umar Akmal (19) and Sohaib Maqsood (24) took the total to 74 when Umar was run out in a most bizzare fashion. Umar’s miscued shot was well fielded by Adil Rashid as both batsmen ended at the non-striker’s end in an attempt to take a single.
Pakistan also lost skipper Shahid Afridi for a second-ball duck and Maqsood stumped – three wickets falling off six balls with the addition of just one run.
Pacemen Liam Plunkett (3-21) and Reece Topley (3-24) shared the bowling honours for England.
England skipper Eoin Morgan praised his side’s batting recovery after losing three early wickets. “It wasn’t easy to comeback after being 19-3 so we are chilled after winning the first match and it was great to see (James) Vince batting so well and lifting us,” said Morgan.
Contrastingly, Afridi blamed his team’s poor batting. “I think the target was chaseable,” said Afridi. “I will not make any excuses but we batted poorly and have to lift that section because England batted very well.”
Billings (53) and Morgan (45 not out) lifted England with a 65-run partnership for the fifth wicket to help their team score 59 off the last five overs.
England had lost Jason Roy (nine), Alex Hales (eight) and Moeen Ali (nought) for just 19 runs by fourth over with left-arm paceman Tanvir taking 2-31.
Debutant Vince struck a 36-ball 41 with a six and six boundaries and added 76 for the fourth wicket with Morgan before he was bowled by fast bowler Riaz in the 14th over.
Billings hit two towering sixes and five boundaries off 25 balls and was run out off the final delivery. Morgan hit three boundaries and a six during his 38-ball knock.
Pakistan were forced to leave out all-rounder Shoaib Malik with a finger injury and opener Ahmed Shehzad with an upset stomach.
Mohmand was handed his Twenty20 debut, becoming the oldest player from a Test playing country to make his debut in the shortest format at 39 years 20 days.
India’s Rahul Dravid was the previous oldest to make his Twenty20 debut at 38 years and 232 days when he played against England at Manchester in 2011.
The remaining matches in the three-game series will be played in Dubai (Friday) and Sharjah (Monday).