Ben Stokes once again turned out to be the big-match hero for England as he guided them to their second T20 World Cup title with an unbeaten 52-run knock in a thrilling final at Melbourne Cricket Ground. England registered a thrilling five-wicket win over Pakistan on Sunday to replicate the success of the 2010 T20 World Cup. Pakistan bowlers put up a fight while defending a below-par 138-run target but Stokes and Moeen Ali were too good for them in the slog overs.
Pakistan missed the services of their talismanic bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi in the death overs as he sustained an injury while taking the catch of Harry Brook. Stokes and Moeen Ali took full advantage of it to pin Pakistan down in the summit clash.
England become the sport’s first dual white-ball champions, holding both the 50 and 20-over titles. While they are the second after West Indies to clinch the T20 WC title twice. West Indies won the titles in 2012 and 2016 in the past.
Chasing the target, England lost in-form opener Alex Hales early for just 1 in the first over courtesy of a jaffa from Afridi. Despite the early wicket, Jos Buttler (24) batted with a positive approach but Haris Rauf dismissed him and Phil Salt (10) in quick succession to pull Pakistan back into the game.
Stokes shared a 39-run stand with Brooks to stabilise the chase for the Three Lions. However, Pakistan bowlers put pressure on them with some tight overs.
Afridi came to bowl the 17th over but walked off the pitch after bowling the first ball. He was in extreme discomfort during the run-up. Iftikar Ahmed had to bowl the remaining ball of his over that’s where Stokes switched the gears and smacked a four and six to shift momentum in England’s favour.
Ali also scored quick 19 runs to release some pressure off Stokes’ shoulders during the 48-run stand. Stokes ‘the man of big occasions’ scored the winning runs as England chased down the target with 6 balls to spare.
Stokes scored 52 runs off 49 balls as he fought hard when the Pakistan bowlers were causing trouble with their swinging deliveries. He hit five fours and a six during his match-winning knock.
Earlier, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid put up a show with the ball as England restricted Pakistan to 137/8 in the summit clash.
It was a below-par performance from Pakistan batters as they succumbed under pressure after Jos Buttler won the toss and elected to bowl first in Melbourne.
Curran (3/12) was impressive upfront and in death overs, while Rashid (2/22) was stunning in the middle overs as England’s meticulous planning and tactics, especially in the second half of the innings, meant they never let Pakistan get away at any stage.
The English pacers built pressure on Mohmmad Rizwan and Babar Azam with their disciplined bowling in the initial overs. After a cautious start, Rizwan tried to break the shackles but Curran got the better of him. The wicketkeeper batter tried to cut it hard but edged it onto the stumps and was dismissed on 14 (15).
Babar struggled to score big shots at will in the big ticket finale and Rashid took the advantage of it by surprising him with a wrong ‘un which he failed to read.
Shan Masood played an all-important knock of 38 runs off 28 balls in which he scored 2 fours and a six but he also became the victim of Curran in the quest of hitting big shots.