Pakistan v England, 3rd T20, Sharjah November 30, 2015

England clinch whitewash in Super Over

England 154 for 8 (Vince 46, Woakes 37) tied with Pakistan 154 for 7 (Malik 75, Willey 3-36)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Super Over England 4 for 0 beat Pakistan 3 for 1

The T20 series had already been won by England but the third match, dead rubber or not, was memorable and went to a Super Over in Sharjah. England, who had never experienced such a thing, sneaked it from the penultimate ball after a pinpoint over from Chris Jordan restricted Pakistan to just three. A game that effectively did not matter mattered enormously. And cricket is all the better for that.

Pakistan must have felt they would win the match in real time. With two runs needed from two balls, and a rendition of "Long Live Pakistan" having blared supportively mid-over from the PA system, the highest T20 score of Shoaib Malik's career - 75 from 54 balls - came to grief when Chris Woakes had him caught at long-on. The last ball, to Sohail Tanvir, flew for a bye as he just beat Jos Buttler's throw to the bowler's end.

So Super Over it was. Many would have questioned England's decision to entrust it to Jordan, hardly a regular and far from the most trustworthy bowler on view. The combination of Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal, by contrast, would have been met with universal approval. But Jordan restricted them to three runs, an over of full length into the pads rounded off when he bowled Akmal around his legs.

Unless England lost two wickets, it was as good as over. Pakistan, correctly, opted for Afridi against Buttler and Eoin Morgan, memories of his spell of 2 for 19 still fresh. There was no shot of note, but Anwar Ali failed to gather and run out Buttler, as he risked a second run to the bowler's end from the penultimate ball, and England crept home.

England therefore completed a 3-0 clean sweep in the series. They have two more T20s to South Africa in February, but they will go to the World T20 in India in March (assuming the organisers ever get round to announcing the dates) in a positive state of mind and few would have anticipated this sense of feelgood for England in any form of limited-overs cricket after their World Cup horrors in Australia earlier in the year. Pakistan, not for the first time, will just hope to catch a fair wind. For all their problems, but who is to say after their part in this thrilling encounter that they will not do just that?

England's victory looked improbable at 86 for 6, but a stand of 60 in seven overs between James Vince and Woakes enabled them to escape to 154 for 8. Pakistan, in reply, needed 90 from 54 balls when they lost their fifth wicket, at which point some uninhibited hitting against the spinners by Malik and Afridi, the latter perhaps playing for Pakistan in the UAE for the last time, threatened to turn the tables.

Pakistan had a dreadful start: 11 for 3 within 2.2 overs. The satisfied bowler was David Willey, who beat Ahmed Shehzad's heave and Rafatullah Mohmand walk across his stumps either side of another barely credible run-out involving Mohammad Hafeez. He has been involved in five during his time in the UAE - out twice himself - and who has met all of them with serious-minded disposition: the straightest of comic straight men. He did not do much wrong on this occasion, but Rafatullah, old enough to sense an unreliable ally when he sees one, was plagued by doubt.

At 35, Afridi's inspirational moments come less often these days. Alongside him, Malik had rarely set T20 alive. But Afridi glared brightly like a maniac's moon, Malik played the T20 innings of his life and battle was joined.

Afridi had a marvellous night, dismissing Joe Root and Moeen Ali in successive balls before striking 29 from 20 balls. With Malik, he added 61 in six overs before Willey's slower ball defeated his lap to bowl him around his legs with 27 needed from 20 balls, a brave variation in the circumstances. Malik responded by rattling Willey's cage with successive boundaries.

Vince's first experience of opening the batting for England in Twenty20 cricket could hardly have been more agonising. His batting partners came and went at an alarming rate, he couldn't get on strike and relief was hard to find it.

If he had not been dismissed to the penultimate ball, a slower delivery from Sohail Tanvir, statisticians would have been checking if his 46 from 45 balls was the slowest innings by a player batting through a T20 innings. We need never know. England's commitment to playing their squad - Alex Hales the latest player rested - has left them in good stead ahead of next year's World Twenty20.

Vince has made his mark in T20 cricket for Hampshire, one of the strongest county teams in this format. One ball into the innings, he had lost his opening partner, Jason Roy. Midway through the 13th over, England were six down for 86 and he had just been the innocent partner in the run out of Buttler. Things were not going awfully well.

Aamer Yamin, a 25-year-old seamer from Multan, was on T20 debut to follow his three ODIs in Zimbabwe in October. Roy, whose inventive batting has been somewhat overshadowed of late by the likes of Buttler and Sam Billings, was lbw first ball to one that skidded back.

It happened so quickly that Vince and Root felt like a new-look opening partnership. Vince was dropped on 4, Tanvir shelling a return chance, more difficult than his drop of Hales in the opening game. Root was in end-of-tour mood, the best of five boundaries in 12 balls being a six hauled into the stands off Mohammad Irfan. "Fee Fo Fi Fum", the giant must have thought, as Root shinned up the beanstalk at a rapid rate.

But Root, with 32 from 22 balls, became a has-bean when Afridi drifted one back to bowl him, Moeen followed first ball to a return catch, only 97 runs for nine times out in all competitions to show for his time in the UAE.

Morgan's dismissal was a replica of his fall in the third ODI, Malik needing only one ball to unfasten him with turn, bowling him as he tried to stay within the line of the ball. Buttler's eagerness for a quick single to short fine was undone by a direct hit at the batsman's end from Mohammad Rizwan, then Akmal clutched Billings' skier precariously to his chest.

Vince needed someone to stay with him. Finally, Woakes did just that, so effectively that Vince, starved of the strike all night, tucked in for a supporting role as Woakes upstaged him, his in-and-out six against Irfan the highlight of his 37 from 24 balls.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments