Cavalier England leave Pakistan in a spin to square series

By Sports Desk July 18, 2021

England's three-pronged spin attack proved to be the difference as the hosts squared the T20I series against Pakistan at Headingley with a 45-run win.

Jos Buttler returned to skipper England as captain Eoin Morgan sat out and he top scored with a stunning 59 from 39 deliveries at the top of the order.

Moeen Ali (36) and Liam Livingstone (38) supplied explosive middle-order contributions, but England lost wickets frequently and there was a suspicion their 200 all out in 19.5 was a touch shy of what was required in perfect batting conditions in a sweltering Leeds.

But a Pakistan batting line-up that posted 232-6 in a 31-run win at Trent Bridge on Friday were effectively shackled by leg-spinners Adil Rashid (2-30) and Matt Parkinson (1-25) and Moeen's off-spin (2-32), with paceman Saqib Mahmood the pick of the attack thanks to 3-33 that began with the vital wicket of visiting captain Babar Azam (22).

Jason Roy set the tone for England's innings with a huge six and a four off slow left-armer Imad Wasim (2-37) before holing out within the first over.

Dawid Malan scratched around for one off five deliveries – top-edging a sweep off Imad to be caught by Azam Khan – although there were no such problems for Moeen in his blistering 16-ball stay, nor Livingstone, who followed up his incredible century in Nottingham by bludgeoning two fours and three sixes. One of those remarkably cleared the grandstand at the Football Ground End.

Buttler was in typically sublime touch through extra cover and only fell to Mohammad Hasnain (3-51) with a thunderous hit straight to Babar at mid-off.

Jonny Bairstow, Tom Curran and Chris Jordan came and went without being able to produce anything of similar substance and the sense England had been slightly wasteful was heightened as Babar and Mohammad Rizwan (37) added 50 for the first wicket.

Babar skewed a cross-seam delivery from Mahmood to a diving Malan and, as Rashid and Parkinson got into their work, Pakistan were unable to regain their momentum.

A fine return catch from Rashid accounted for Rizwan, while Moeen had Mohammad Hafeez caught behind for 10 and bowled Fakhar Zaman with a beauty to scoop the player of the match award.

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