MELBOURNE, Australia: Ben Stokes and Sam Curran starred as England edged Pakistan by five wickets to win the Twenty20 World Cup on Sunday and become the sport’s first dual white-ball champions, holding both the 50 and 20-over titles.
Jos Buttler’s side held Pakistan to 137-8 in front of a partisan 80,462 fans at a heaving Melbourne Cricket Ground, with player-of-the-match and tournament Curran bagging 3-12 and Adil Rashid chipping with 2-22. In reply, England slumped to 49-3 in the sixth over as they struggled to get any momentum against a fiery pace attack, with boundaries hard to come by.
But Stokes (52 not out) and Moeen Ali (19) used their experience and cool heads to guide England to 138-5 with six balls to spare, climaxing a riveting tournament that spanned 45 games over nearly a month. “In finals, especially when chasing, you probably forget all the hard work before that. To restrict them to 130, the bowlers have to take a lot of credit. Adil Rashid and Sam Curran won us the game,” said Stokes.
“Pretty good evening. Representing your country in World Cups is amazing, it has been a good one.” Curran said Stokes should have been player of the match. “We all look up to him. People question him, but he’s incredible. He’s the man,” he said.
“The way I bowl, I go into the wicket with my slower balls and keep the batsmen guessing. World champions, how good,” he added. The victory added to the 50-over title England won in 2019, building on the legacy of former captain Eoin Morgan, who retired this year after transforming the team into a white-ball juggernaut.
It was England’s second T20 crown after tasting success in 2010, joining the West Indies as the only two-time winners since the tournament’s inception in 2007. The game was billed as a showdown between Pakistan’s attack and England’s top order, and Shaheen Afridi bowled danger man Alex Hales in the first over of the run chase.
But that only fired up Buttler who smashed two boundaries off Naseem Shah. Phil Salt, playing in place of the injured Dawid Malan, didn’t last, making just 10 before pulling Haris Rauf to Iftikhar Ahmed. The ball was swinging and seaming and the menacing Rauf claimed the key wicket of Buttler just as he was getting in, edging to wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan on 26 off 17 balls.
The runs dried up as they reached 77-3 at the halfway point of the innings, compared to Pakistan’s 68-2. Harry Brook came undone on 20 against the spin of Shadab Khan, holing out to Afridi and came down to needing 41 runs off the final five overs.
Stokes relieved the pressure with a four and a six off Ahmed and there was no stopping them with the England all-rounder hitting the winning runs. With forecast rain staying away, England produced disciplined and economical bowling to stymie 2009 champions Pakistan, with Shan Masood’s 38 the top score.
Stokes was given the new ball after England won the toss and chose to field with Pakistan lucky to survive the over intact as opener Rizwan was almost run out going for a risky single. Rizwan and Babar Azam shared a century partnership in their semi-final against New Zealand, but another big stand wasn’t to be, with Rizwan dragging a delivery from Curran on to his stumps on 15.
The introduction of Rashid soon after the six-over powerplay reaped an immediate reward with Mohammad Haris (8) attacking him on his first ball only to sky a simple catch to Stokes. Masood began swinging the bat in the second half of the innings, hitting a four and six off Liam Livingstone.
But once again Rashid got the breakthrough, pulling off a diving catch from his own bowling to claim the vital wicket of Azam, whose 32 came off 28 balls. Ahmed only lasted six balls before Masood and Shadab Khan (20) fell in the space of two runs as Curran and Chris Jordan kept the lid on any hope Pakistan had of a late flurry. – AFP