England beat Pakistan by five wickets to win the Twenty20 World Cup on Sunday and become the sport’s first dual white-ball champions, holding both the 50 and 20-over titles.
England held Pakistan to 137-8 at Melbourne Cricket Ground, with player-of-the-match Curran bagging 3-12 and Adil Rashid chipping with 2-22. In reply, England slumped to 49-3 in the sixth over as they struggled to get any momentum against a fiery pace attack, with boundaries hard to come by. But Stokes (52 not out) and Moeen Ali (19) used their experience and cool heads to guide England to 138-5 with six balls to spare.
Ben Stokes: In finals especially when chasing.. you probably forget all the hard work before that, how we bowled, Adil Rashid and Sam Curran won us the game. It was a tricky wicket and one that you never felt in, so to restrict them to 130-odd bowlers you have to take a lot of credit for that. With that (defeat to Ireland) being so early in the competition we obviously had to address it, say what had to be said and then let it go. In tournaments like these you can’t carry baggage with you, that was a little blip on the way, credit to Ireland for turning up and beating us, but the best teams learn from their mistakes and not let it affect them. Pretty good evening. Representing your country in World Cups is amazing.. but it has been a good one.”
Sam Curran: I don’t think I should be getting this, I think Ben Stokes should get this (PoTM.). Big square boundaries, so I knew my into the wicket bowling would work with big boundaries. I mixed it up with slower balls to make it tough for the batter. Incredibly special. We all look up to him. People question him but he’s incredible. Amazing crowd. I wanted to be adaptable coming into the tournament. I haven’t bowled much before at the death. Needed to be good with the bat too. How good is it to be a World Champ (smiles)!
England Captain Jos Buttler: It is. To win the T20 World Cup now, I’m really proud of everyone here. It’s been a fantastic tournament. We went to Pakistan before coming here, which was a valuable time for the group. He has fitted in really well. We have got a few Australians in the coaching staff. Huge swing in the game, fantastic over from Adil. Has been outstanding for us in the last three games, just the guy who makes things happen. When you hit a length there is some movement. We managed to get away to a start but it wasn’t easy. Ben Stokes was just perfect at the end. He is the ultimate competitor in anything he does. Has the experience as well. That phase with Moeen Ali, just took it away from Pakistan.
Pakistan Captain Babar Azam: Congratulations to England, they fought well. We felt like home here, and got great support at every venue. Thanks for your support. I just told the boys to play our natural game, but we fell 20 runs short and the boys fought well with the ball. Our bowling is one of the best attacks in the world. Unfortunately Shaheen’s injury put us off, but that’s part of the game.
It was almost as if England continued their batting from where they left off against India. Shaheen Afridi and first overs continued as the left-arm quick stunned Alex Hales with his pace – the England opener cried out ‘Woahhh’, failing to get his down in time to see his stumps rattled – but it was almost as if England and Jos Buttler were not even bothered as the skipper and Phil Salt collected six boundaries and a six inside the Powerplay.
Pakistan continued to chip in though. Salt was caught at midwicket and Haris Rauf finally got the dangerous Buttler to nick one to keeper after Naseem Shah beat his edge four times the over before. At the six-over mark, England were 49/3, just 10 ahead of Pakistan but since Buttler and Salt had gotten off the blocks with a quickfire stand taking the current run rate above the required, Ben Stokes and Harry Brook had time to play themselves in.
But Pakistan did not throw in the towel. The raw pace of Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah resulted in countless swings and misses – in fact, Naseem beat Stokes and Brook’s edge five times in an over. The pressure paid off as Shadab took Brooke out, allowing Pakistan one foot inside the door, but it came at the cost of an injury to Shaheen Afridi, who hurt his knee while completing the catch. At the 12th over, mark, England were two runs behind Pakistan with the same number of overs down. Stokes, who was clearly struggling to put bat to bowl, finally broke the shackles with a boundary off Rauf – the first in five overs.
With 41 needed off 30 balls, it was anyone’s game, Pakistan brought Shaheen back, but after just one ball, he went off the ball. He was replaced by Iftikhar Ahmed, a gamble that did not play off as Stokes smoked the off-spinner for a four and a six. In the next over, it was Moeen Ali’s turn to take over, creaming three fours off Mohammad Wasim as England scored 26 off six deliveries, bringing the equation down to 12 needed off 18. With 6 needed off 11, Pakistan tasted their last success of the evening as Moeen played on, but his cameo had done the work for England. Liam Livingstone, the new man in, took a single to bring Stokes back on strike, and after hitting a boundary to get to a half-century, Stokes scored the winning runs to banish the demons of the World T20 six years ago in India.
Like England, Pakistan registered a rather comfortable win over New Zealand in the semifinals, but the same batting line-up that ran the Kiwis ragged, failed to turn up on the big occasion. Only four batters entered double digits with Shan Masood’s 38 and Babar Azam’s scratchy 32 lifting close to 140. Curran, one of the world’s brightest and young cricketers, took another step towards stardom picking up 3/12 and restricting Pakistan’s top order get off the blocks. Similar issues came back to haunt Pakistan, as they got stuck in the Powerplay. Once, from 29/0, Pakistan got reduced to 85/4, it was all downhill.
Adil Rashid’s wrist spin was something Pakistan struggled against, coupled with Chris Jordan’s searing pace. Both Rashid and Jordan, who played a key role in England’s win over India in the previous knockout game, raced through the Pakistan middle order. With England getting regular breakthroughs, Pakistan had no other choice but to play steadily, with Masood and Shadab Khan forging a somewhat crucial 36-run partnership, but once they perished, Pakistan struggled. So much so that they scored just one boundary in the final four overs.
Brief scores: Pakistan 137/8 in 20 overs (Shan Masood 38, Babar Azam 32; Sam Curran 3/12, Adil Rashid 2/22).
England 138/5 in 19 overs (Ben Stokes 52, Jos Buttler 26; Haris Rauf 2/23, Shaheen Afridi 1/13).