England 199 for 5 (Morgan 66, Malan 54*) beat Pakistan 195 for 4 (Hafeez 69, Azam 56) by five wickets
Despite Pakistan recording their highest ever T20I score against England, Morgan’s innings of 66 from 33 balls and Malan’s unbeaten 54 from 36 helped England seize victory with five deliveries in hand. As well as being a ground record, it was the highest successful T20I chase achieved against Pakistan. The result puts England one-up in the three match series ahead of the final game on Tuesday and offered suitably dramatic entertainment for the BBC; covering their first live England match this century.
It seems extraordinary that Morgan gave any thought to retiring following England’s World Cup success. He currently appears to be in the form of his life, having passed 50 in four of his most recent seven T20I games. Since March 2019, he is averaging 59.37 in T20Is at a strike rate of 183.39.
Here he survived a confident appeal for leg before he had scored – Pakistan’s review showed the ball would have hit middle stump, but Morgan survived on the basis of umpire’s call on impact – and then allowed himself a few balls to adjust to the pace of the surface, scoring 3 off his first six balls before accelerating.
From the start of the 12th, England plundered 75 in five overs after appearing to target Iftikhar Ahmed, who was taken for 18 in one over, and Shaheen Shah Afridi, who was taken for 20 in another.
Malan also sustained his impressive showing in T20I cricket. He has now made at least a half-century in seven of his 12 games – a record for any player in his first 12 matches – and averages 54.60 in the format.
While he was content to play a supporting role to Morgan for much of their partnership of 112 in 10.2 overs, England were glad for his calm head once Morgan departed. There were still 18 runs required from 19 balls at that stage and, with Moeen Ali soon following, England could have wobbled.
But Malan, whose ability to pace an innings must render him a strong contender to retain his place in England’s squad for the T20Is against Australia, showed why he is England’s highest-rated T20I batsman by seeing his side home.
Earlier, Mohammad Hafeez produced his highest T20I score since 2013 to help Pakistan to their highest T20I score against anyone since June 2018.
Hafeez has endured a frustrating wait to get into the action on this tour. His initial arrival in the UK – which was every bit of seven weeks ago – was delayed by a positive test for Covid-19 and, once he did arrive, he was obliged to spend a further period in isolation after posing for a photograph with a pensioner he met while playing on the golf course at the Ageas Bowl.
But he vindicated his continued selection, at the age of 39, with his third half-century in four T20I innings, including a spell which saw him score 37 runs from 12 balls. Tom Curran, who at one stage bowled a waist-high full-toss that was pulled for six, took particular punishment in an over than conceded 23 runs.
He was helped, though, by an opening partnership of 72 in 8.3 overs between Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman which gave Pakistan a strong foundation. Azam looked in particularly good touch, pulling the first ball of the match for four and looking very strong square of the wicket.
In reply, England posted 65 without loss in their Powerplay. But the loss of Jonny Bairstow and Tom Banton to successive deliveries – both attempting sweeps of Shadab Khan – brought Pakistan back into the game. But Morgan survived a review on his second ball and was soon in his stride.
Pakistan were not helped by an injury to Mohammad Amir. He looked in discomfort while bowling his second over and left the pitch after it. In his absence, Babar looked short of options in the field. Pakistan later confirmed Amir was suffering with hamstring pain rendering his participation in Tuesday’s game a doubt.
England may not be entirely satisfied with their performance, though. The bowling attack appeared to wilt in the face of the assault from Hafeez, in particular, with Curran and Saqib Mahmood seeing their attempts to bowl slower balls and yorkers turn into full-tosses. Hafeez feasted on their attempt to utilise the long square boundaries by focusing on a short-ball attack.
There were only 28 dot balls in the Pakistan innings and only two overs that did not include a boundary. Suffice to say, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer will not have seen anything that had them fearing for their selection.