England wins 1st T20 in triumphant return to Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — England made a triumphant return to Pakistan after 17 years with a six-wicket win in the first Twenty20 on Tuesday.

Debutant left-arm fast bowler Luke Wood grabbed 3-24 to help limit Pakistan to 158-7 after captain Moeen Ali won the toss in his country of roots and elected to field.

Alex Hales, in his return to England colors after more than three years, smashed 53 off 40 balls and led the visitors to 160-4 in 19.2 overs.

“Very enjoyable performance, it’s my debut so can’t complain,” Wood said. “They had a good start, but you kind of work it out quickly. We kept taking wickets, which was the key and (we) had a pretty good back end.”

Pakistan couldn’t capitalize on Mohammad Rizwan (68) and captain Babar Azam’s (31) aggressive opening stand of 85 off 57 balls before the middle-order capitulated against Wood in the death overs.

“After 10 overs, there was a swing of momentum for which you have to give credit to England,” Babar said as Pakistan could score only 71 in the last 10 overs after getting along comfortably at 87-1 in the first 10. “We didn’t have enough big partnerships and our batters need to step up.”

Hales then benefitted from two dropped catches in his 20s before going down to fast bowler Haris Rauf soon after completing his half century.

Harry Brooks, who played for Lahore in the PSL earlier this year, made an unbeaten 42 off 25 balls to finish off the game with four balls to spare.

Hales benefitted from two dropped catches in his 20s before perishing to fast bowler Haris Rauf soon after completing his half century.

Harry Brooks, who played for Lahore in the PSL in Pakistan earlier this year, made a robust unbeaten 42 off 25 balls to finish off the game with four balls to spare.

Babar seemed to have regained his lost batting form which saw him score only 68 runs in six games of Asia Cup earlier this month.

Babar drove David Willey to midwicket for a boundary off the first ball he faced before Adil Rashid struck in his second over.

Babar played to the wrong line against Rashid’s googly and was clean bowled as England made a strong back in the latter half of the innings.

Rizwan showed lot of aggression against both pace and spin and raised his half century off 32 balls with a straight six off Ali before the offspinner got him stumped in the 15th over.

Shan Masood, who got his maiden call to Pakistan’s T20 squad on the back of his terrific form for Derbyshire in the Blast this season, could score only 7 and Haider Ali made 11 as Pakistan’s middle-order crumbled against some disciplined England bowling.

In the absence of rested vice-captain Shadab Khan and power-hitter Asif Ali, Pakistan couldn’t accelerate with Wood grabbing three wickets in his last two overs.

Hales, one of the eight England players having experience of playing in the PSL, dominated both pace and spin.

Shadab’s replacement leg-spinner Usman Qadir (2-36) couldn’t hold onto a sharp return catch when Hales was on 24 before Shan Masood couldn’t grab a regulation catch in the deep when the batter reached 28.

Hales raised his half century with a pulled four against Haris Rauf to fine leg before Babar Azam finally took a good running catch to dismiss him off the next delivery.

Young fast bowler Naseem Shah finished with 0-41 off his four overs as Brooks took charge and raised the victory with a boundary over extra cover against Shahnawaz Dahani (1-38) in the last over.

Both teams observed a minute of silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II before the start of play and England players also wore black armbands.

The series is a tune-up for next month’s T20 World Cup in Australia with Karachi hosting four games and Lahore the remaining three from Sept. 28-Oct. 2.

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