England’s Phil Salt scored a blistering half-century as the visitors raced to an eight-wicket win over Pakistan in their sixth Twenty20 clash in Lahore on Friday to level the seven-match series at 3-3.
Salt, who had struggled for runs coming into the game, looked in ominous form from the outset when he opened his innings with two fours before helping England bring up 100 in just seven overs with a six off Aamer Jamal.
Alex Hales gave him support with a breezy 27 while Dawid Malan contributed 26, with both batsmen falling to the leg-spin of Shadab Khan.
The wickets proved to be mere consolation for Pakistan as Salt continued his onslaught and struck the winning runs in the 15th over, ending his 88-run knock with 13 fours and three sixes in off 41 balls.
Earlier, Pakistan lost their opening two wickets for 15 after being put in to bat before captain Babar Azam launched a fine counter-attack, hitting seven fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 59-ball 87.
He was briefly supported by Iftikhar Ahmed (31) but Pakistan’s middle-order failings cost them again as the bowling pair of David Willey (2-32) and Sam Curran (2-26) restricted the hosts to 169-6.
Azam hit three sixes and seven boundaries and added 48 for the fourth wicket with Iftikhar and 47 for the third with Haider Ali (18).
Pakistan handed a T20I debut to 21-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman Mohammad Haris as they rested Mohammad Rizwan.
Fast bowler Haris Rauf was also rested, making way for Shahnawaz Dahani.
England rested the pace duo of Mark Wood and Chris Woakes to bring in Reece Topley and Gleeson.
The teams will contest the final match in the series at the same venue on Sunday.
AZAM EQUALS KOHLI’S RECORD: Skipper Babar Azam equalled India star Virat Kohli’s record of the fastest man to 3,000 runs in cricket’s shortest format as Pakistan.
It was his 27th half century.
Azam hit Richard Gleeson for a six to join Indian duo of Rohit Sharma (3,694 runs in 140 matches) and Kohli (3,663 in 108), New Zealand’s Martin Guptill (3,497 in 112) and Ireland’s Paul Stirling (3,011 in 114) in the milestone.
However, Azam recorded 3,000 runs in 81 innings, equalling Virat Kohli’s record in the format. Kohli and Azam are the only two batters to reach the milestone in less than 100 innings
The skipper became the first Pakistan batter to 3,000 T20I runs during his half-century against England in the sixth T20I of the seven-match series.
The next Pakistan batter in the list is Mohammad Hafeez with 2,514 runs followed by Bismah Maroof with 2,388 runs. Shoaib Malik and Rizwan are the only others outside these three from Pakistan with more than 2,000 T20I runs.
In women’s T20Is, Suzie Bates, Meg Lanning, and Stafanie Taylor have over 3,000 runs. Overall, Babar is the eighth player to the landmark in T20Is.