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David Willey involved in bizarre incident before Pakistan pile on the runs

The paceman avoided serious injury after a pitch box popped up.

Play stops after a pitch box pops up during the Vitality IT20 match between England and Pakistan at Cardiff (PA)
Play stops after a pitch box pops up during the Vitality IT20 match between England and Pakistan at Cardiff (PA)

Pakistan got out of a hole in the Twenty20 international against England – 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 to set England a victory target of 174 in Cardiff.

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 that he had escaped 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 England captain Eoin Morgan took an excellent catch above his head.

England were well on top as Jofra 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.

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Babar Azam, left, and Haris Sohail produced a fine partnership (PA)

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 – falling in unfortunate circumstances.

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Jofra Archer celebrates the wicket of Babar Azam (PA)

The new Somerset signing was following up after an Asif Ali mishit 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 Ashraf in the final over, but 18 runs came from it as Pakistan posted a total which appeared capable of challenging England.

PA

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