Malan heroics seal the series after tie
England Lions 165 for 4 (Malan 81, Billings 50) tied with Pakistan A 165 for 3 (Maqsood 40)
Super Over England Lions 12 for 0 beat Pakistan A 8 for 1
Dawid Malan sealed in a Super Over a match that he deserved to have won in normal time, as England Lions overcame a late-innings wobble to beat Pakistan A in a thrilling finale in Dubai. The result completed a come-from-behind 3-2 series win that confirms the depth of England's squad options ahead of next year's World Twenty20 in India.
Set a daunting 166 for victory after winning the toss and choosing to bowl first, Malan dictated England's tempo for the fourth match out of five, making 81 from 55 balls with eight fours and two sixes. At the other end, Sam Billings once again displayed his power and range of strokes to make 50 from 31 and, between them, their third-wicket stand of 93 in 9.2 overs appeared to have broken Pakistan's resistance.
However, a late fightback during Pakistan's death overs, sparked by Billings' dismissal in the 17th over, changed the face of the contest. Twenty runs were still needed from 21 balls when Ross Whiteley arrived at the crease, but his momentum-sapping contribution of 5 from 12 balls - including a crucial penultimate over of two runs from Rumman Raees in which Whiteley's share was one run from five balls - left Malan high and dry as he was run out from the final ball of the contest, with the scores tied.
That required him to go straight back out and do the job again and, with Billings once again alongside him, his consecutive fours off Junaid Khan allowed England to post a competitive total of 12 in their Super Over. Tom Curran duly completed the job, conceding eight runs in return while claiming the scalp of Sohaib Maqsood, to cue jubilation on the sidelines.
Malan, who had made two half-centuries in the series already, played with supreme confidence throughout, and found in Billings the perfect ally to guide England's run chase. Malan brought up his half-century from 40 balls, and duly celebrated with two sixes and a four from Aamer Yamin's next three balls to complete a 20-run over.
The pair came together at 53 for 2 in the eighth over, following the departures of Daniel Bell-Drummond, who started with intent in his first outing of the series to make 17 from 15 balls, and James Vince, who was bowled by Mohammad Nawaz for 5 after moving down the order to No. 3.
Billings, who impressed during the senior T20I series against Pakistan last month, reached his half-century from 30 balls and doubtless envisaged a quick kill when, having already pumped Raees down the ground to reach the landmark with the second of his two sixes, immediately holed out to Nawaz on the long-off boundary. He could not have anticipated what happened next.
Pakistan had maintained a lively tempo from the outset of their own innings, with Sharjeel Khan and Maqsood adding 68 for the first wicket in 6.4 overs. Sohaib bunted three fours in his first six legitimate deliveries, from Reece Topley and Jamie Overton, before Sharjeel greeted the early introduction of the spinner, Liam Dawson, by smacking consecutive sixes over the leg side.
Curran broke their stand, one over later, when Sharjeel was cleaned up by a straight one for 28 from 18 balls, and after a period of consolidation from Dawson and Malan, bowling legspin, Maqsood also departed, caught and bowled by Dawson for 40 from 38 balls as he attempted a wipe to long-on but chipped a leading edge back to the bowler.
Iftikhar Ahmed worked the singles well in partnership with Babar Azam, and added consecutive boundaries off Jake Ball for good measure, but when he holed out to Topley off Malan for 29 from 22 balls, it was left to Yamin to apply the finish to Pakistan's innings.
He cut his first ball, from Malan, for four and added another four and a six in Curran's next over to finish unbeaten on 27 from 17 balls. England battled back well at the death, however, with Overton mixing up his slower balls well to concede six runs from the final over of the innings. In the final analysis, it proved crucial.