MANCHESTER: Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez praised teenage debutant Haider Ali’s composure after the pair combined to set up Pakistan’s five-run victory over England in their tour-ending third Twenty20 international at Old Trafford on Tuesday. It was Pakistan’s first victory in 66 days of being in a bio-secure bubble in England amid the coronavirus and meant they squared this three-match series at 1-1 after a 1-0 loss in last month’s three-Test series.
Hafeez made 86 not out and Haider 54 in Pakistan’s 190-4. There was a 20-year age gap between the 39-year-old Hafeez and the 19-year-old Haider but you would not have known it while they shared a stand of exactly 100 after coming together at 32-2. Hafeez’s knock followed his 69 in England’s five-wicket win at Old Trafford on Sunday and was his fourth fifty in his last five T20 international innings. Haider came in at 2-1 after opener Fakhar Zaman was out for one but demonstrated a maturity well beyond his years during a 28-ball fifty featuring five fours and two sixes.
“He was good under pressure and just expressed himself,” said player of the series Hafeez of Haider in a post-match interview with Sky Sports. “I was just trying to back him every time, tell him ‘you are playing well, continue like that,’” he added. “It is great to see youngsters coming from our system and performing well.”
England were 69-4 in their chase before Moeen Ali, who should have been stumped by former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed on seven, revived their hopes with 61. But when veteran paceman Wahab Riaz, in for the injured Mohammad Amir, ran out Chris Jordan and then caught and bowled Moeen, England were 174-8 with seven balls left.
They needed 12 off two balls when Tom Curran hit a six. But Curran could not repeat the shot when paceman Haris Rauf bowled a last-ball yorker. “We had a plan and achieved a total and then bowled very well,” said Pakistan captain Babar Azam, the world’s top-ranked Twenty20 batsman, who was out for 21 on Tuesday.“Moeen played a superb knock but our bowlers did well to win the match,” added Babar, who will remain in England to play for Somerset in the Twenty20 Blast.
Turning to the final over, Babar said: “I told the bowler (Rauf) to bowl yorkers. “One ball he bowled a really bad ball (the one hit for six by Curran) but that is part of the game!” Meanwhile England captain Eoin Morgan was pleased by Moeen’s return to form after the left-handed batsman had managed just 10 runs in his previous four white-ball international innings.
“Moeen is a joy to watch, very elegant,” said Morgan. “For him to come out and almost be the cornerstone at the back-end of a victory was great.” England suffered a setback just four balls into their chase when Jonny Bairstow was bowled for a duck by a superb yorker from left-arm quick Shaheen Afridi. Morgan, fresh from his 66 on Sunday, was run out for just 10 after a mix-up with Tom Banton. And when Banton was lbw for 46 to Rauf, England were 69-4 before Moeen threatened to deny Pakistan.
Haider, in after Moeen bowled Zaman, slog-swept his second ball in international cricket for six. Haider struck Lewis Gregory’s first ball for an elegant, soaring, legside six before pulling him for four to become the first Pakistan batsman to score a fifty on his T20 international debut. Hafeez’s swept four off leg-spinner Adil Rashid saw him to a 31-ball fifty, including four sixes, before Haider was bowled by Jordan. — AFP