Captain Morgan leads by example as England beat Pakistan in Cardiff
Eoin Morgan struck an unbeaten 57 as the hosts chase down Pakistan’s total of 173.
England timed their run chase to perfection to beat Pakistan by seven wickets in their Twenty20 international at Cardiff.
Solid batting from skipper Eoin Morgan (57 not out), Joe Root (47) and James Vince (36) saw England chase down Pakistan’s 173 for six with four balls to spare.
After their 50-over victory over Ireland on Friday, this has proved to be a successful start to England’s summer, one which features the ODI World Cup and the Ashes.
England have never lost a T20 international at Cardiff and that record was protected with a composed all-round display on a greenish Sophia Gardens strip.
Jofra Archer also gave another tantalising glimpse of his rich talents by taking two for 29 in the Pakistan innings.
In responding to Pakistan’s total, Ben Duckett fell early on his return to England colours for the first time since November 2016.
Duckett departed for nine when he drove Shaheen Afridi straight to Imad Wasim at mid-off, but Vince and Root played some sumptuous strokes to keep up with the rate.
Vince had made 36 from 27 balls when umpire Alex Wharf felt he had feathered a delivery from Wasim down the legside.
The decision was upheld on review, with replays indicating the faintest of edges into the gloves of wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Morgan took 14 runs off three successive balls from Faheem Ashraf as England pressed home their advantage.
And, even when Root fell to another Sarfaraz catch, there was no sign of England letting victory slip.
Pakistan had earlier got out of a batting hole – after paceman David Willey nearly fell down one.
Babar Azam, the world’s number one T20 batsman, and Haris Sohail rescued Pakistan from a perilous 31 for two with some clean striking, but the innings will be remembered for an extraordinary incident at the start of the third over.
Willey was just about to reach the delivery crease when the ground gave way beneath him and a huge hole appeared in the Sophia Gardens turf.
Ground staff were able to repair the damage, apparently the result of a pitch box popping up, but Willey was fortunate to escape serious injury.
Ben Foakes failed to run out Fakhar Zaman early on after the Pakistan opener had been involved in a mix-up between the wickets with Babar, but England then enjoyed some success.
Fakhar failed to make the most of his lifeline as he drove Tom Curran into the covers and Morgan took an excellent catch above his head.
England were well on top as Archer impressed on his T20 international debut.
The Barbardos-born paceman produced some wonderful variation, mixing slower balls with real snorters, and removed Imam-ul-Haq for seven.
The extra bounce rapped Imam on the gloves and Foakes took a comfortable legside catch.
Pakistan were 38 for two at the end of the six-over powerplay, but Babar and Haris rebuilt the innings with a partnership of 103 in 64 balls.
Haris struck the first six of the innings off Chris Jordan, but escaped on 30 when Foakes failed to collect an offside edge off Archer having at first moved down the legside.
Babar sent Adil Rashid to the stands before successive sixes off Joe Denly helped him reach his fifty from 31 balls.
But Archer tilted the balance England’s way again when Haris, having made 50 from 36 balls, was deceived by his slow off-cutter and failed to clear Willey on the legside boundary.
Pakistan were then undone by two run-outs, with England claiming the prize wicket of Babar, who had hit five fours and three sixes in his 65 before falling in unfortunate circumstances.
The new Somerset signing was following up after an Asif Ali mis-hit and Archer, in his follow through, threw the stumps down at the bowler’s end.
Asif was run out in the next over after Jordan almost held a vicious return chance.
He nearly caught it on the rebound too, but he kept his composure to run out the non-striker who was ambling out of his crease.
Jordan claimed the deserved wicket of Faheem in the final over, but 18 runs came from it as Pakistan posted a total which appeared capable of challenging England.