Sarfraz Ahmed was delighted to get off to a winning start as Pakistan’s new Twenty20 International captain and end the tour of the United Kingdom on a high note after the visiting side clinched the one-off T20I against England on Wednesday (September 7) at Old Trafford by nine wickets.
Fresh from the four-wicket victory in Cardiff in the final One-Day International, in which Sarfraz made 90 as Pakistan avoided a series whitewash, the visiting bowlers held England to 135 for 7 in their 20 overs. Imad Wasim, the left-arm spinner, removed both England openers – Jason Roy and Alex Hales – before Wahab Riaz took 3 for 18. Sharjeel Khan (59) and Khalid Latif (59 not out) then shared a blistering century stand as Pakistan won with 31 balls to spare.
“Credit to our bowlers and then Khalid and Sharjeel played really well,” said Sarfraz. “After we won the match in Cardiff, the morale was very high. But I told the players that when we are playing T20I cricket we want some energy and we want some good fielding on the ground. The players did that. This is how to play modern-day cricket.”
Riaz was plagued by no-ball problems as Pakistan came from behind to draw a four-match Test series with England 2-2, a result that took them top of the Test standings – before losing the ODIs 4-1. But there was no over-stepping in Manchester.
“The credit goes to the bowling coach (Azhar Mahmood); he really helped me, he was very strict with me about the no-balls,” said Riaz. “Because I was resting the last two games, he really worked hard with me.”
Pakistan confounded a succession of England batsmen with their changes of pace, and Riaz, who even broke the 90mph barrier on the day, was the best of the lot. “When I was running in, I had a plan within myself that if I have to bowl fast, it has to be very fast and if I have to bowl slow, it has to be very slow,” he said. “You have to have a lot of varieties in T20s. I think I was successful in that and getting wickets.”
Crucially, from Pakistan’s point of view, it was a tour devoid of controversy, and would have helped their reputation following the spot-fixing controversy that blighted their last visit six years ago.
“The whole tour was very good, our Test cricket was very good. We wanted to finish on a high note and we did,” agreed Sarfraz.
England managed just one boundary in their last ten overs, whereas Sharjeel and Latif struck 14 fours and a six in the first five overs of Pakistan’s reply, and Eoin Morgan, the England captain, blamed a rapid change in conditions for the way things panned out.
Morgan said evening dew had made the new ball come on to the bat nicely at the start of Pakistan’s chase, even though there was a gap of just ten minutes between innings. “I think conditions changed quite dramatically throughout the game,” he said. “With the benefit of hindsight, I probably would have bowled first and chased in the evening, given how much dew there was about.”
But Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, was scathing in his assessment of the situation. “The way we were going allowed Pakistan to get on top. We didn’t show urgency with our running,” he said. “We played like pretty boys at one stage. We want to win every game. You can coach all you want but it’s got to come from within.
“The ceiling is still very high. We’re still looking at how well we can play. We’re looking at how we can become a bit more consistent.”