This article is not science fiction. It is not from an episode of the Twilight Zone.
This chilly and cloudy Sunday afternoon in Cardiff brought with it the only IT20 of the season, which England won by seven wickets over Pakistan.
Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. This didn’t disappoint the England captain, Eoin Morgan, as he would have bowled first had he won the toss.
To the sound of airhorns from their fans, Pakistan had a nervy start as Ben Duckett’s throw from the deep caught out Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam meaning Ben Foakes was able to have a shy at the stumps. Fortunately for Pakistan, Foakes missed.
Pakistan batted aggressively in the powerplay but this was to be Fakhar Zaman’s downfall as he lifted one up in the air for Morgan to catch one-handed to his right.
Then came an unfortunate incident involving David Willey. As he ran up to bowl, Willey stepped on a loose square of grass which was covering the connections used to power the lights that flash whenever the ball hits the stumps. Willey was not injured but he could have twisted his ankle as the grass came away beneath him.
Mark Howard explained how stump cams work on Fox Sports during the second day’s play of the second Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka in February.
Jofra Archer made an impact on his T20 debut for England. Archer’s career average bowling speed of 89mph means he is only slower than Lockie Ferguson and Kagiso Rabada who both average just under 90mph. 43per cent of balls bowled by Archer today were clocked at over 90mph.
In his first over, Archer claimed the wicket of Imam-ul-Haq who fell to a bouncer which he pulled into the gloves of England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
Haris Sohail came in at number four and exploited the short boundaries here at Cardiff and some poor bowling from Chris Jordan to score 14 runs off the eighth over with two fours and a six. Haris formed an excellent third-wicket partnership with Babar Azam worth 103 runs, with Haris scoring 50 and Babar scoring 65.
Despite the 103-run partnership between Haris and Babar, Pakistan wobbled in the final overs of their innings with three wickets falling in the space of two overs.
First, Haris pulled a short ball from Archer into the hands of David Willey at the boundary. Then, Babar hit the ball into his pads and unsuccessfully attempted to run a single as he was run out by Archer.
Asif Ali was the next to go as he was run out in a bizarre incident. Chris Jordan went for the caught and bowled catch off Imad Wasim but fumbled and couldn’t complete the catch. Then, Jordan noticed Asif Ali out of his crease and ran him out.
Pakistan were now 139-5.
Wasim ended up making a great cameo for Pakistan as he made 18 not out from 13 balls, helping Pakistan reach their final total of 173-6 off their 20 overs.
An interesting thing to note about Pakistan’s innings was Adil Rashid’s LBW shouts. In both of the incidences in which this happened, the impact was umpire’s call because the batsman was over 3m from the stumps.
This is why England did not review the umpire’s not out decision because, despite the ball going on to hit the stumps, the umpires would not have been able to give it out because of the impact being umpire’s call.
England’s reply started well with James Vince and Ben Duckett immediately scoring boundaries. However, this aggressive approach wasn’t to end well for Duckett as he hit one straight to the man at mid-off. He did impress me though and I hope he is selected again for England the next time they play an IT20.
Pakistan nearly had a run-out in the fifth over as Vince drove the ball back to Hasan Ali, whose throw at the stumps was on target but Vince was back in his crease. Vince was then able to run a single in the confusion afterwards. To make matters worse for Pakistan, Vince drove the next ball to the midwicket boundary.
After the powerplay, England were ahead of Pakistan on 48-1, compared to Pakistan’s 38-2 at the same point.
Vince’s wonderful innings prematurely came to a close as he was caught behind by Pakistan’s wicketkeeper, Sarfaraz Ahmed. Vince did review but UltraEdge showed a spike as the ball passed the bat so the original decision stood.
However, there was some question into the technology as Vince’s bat hit the ground just as the spike was detected on UltraEdge. Nevertheless, Vince was back in the dugout, having scored 36 off 27 balls, and England were 66-2.
Eoin Morgan was now at the crease with his strike rate close to 200 throughout his innings. However, Pakistan could have got the England captain out long before he even had a chance to consider scoring his half-century.
Morgan hit one high in the air straight down the ground but Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi were cautious not to collide into one another and the ball went straight over their heads for six runs. This over in which this missed chance occurred was bowled by Faheem Ashraf and it went for 17 runs.
Mohammed Hasnain made his T20 debut for Pakistan today at just 19 years of age and he impressed, bowling some great Yorkers to allow England’s required run rate to climb. Root managed to counter Hasnain’s restrictive bowling by reverse sweeping him for four.
The partnership between Root and Morgan wasn’t to last too much longer as Root went for the scoop, which he had mastered previously, only to find the gloves of Sarfaraz. England were now on 131-3 with the inexperienced Joe Denly coming to the crease.
Denly struggled initially with Yorkers but he managed to drive his sixth ball of the innings through the covers for four to ease the pressure and his nerves. His contribution of 20 not out was just what England needed to help them get across the line.
The man who did just that was Morgan who had a captain’s innings of 57 not out, scoring the winning runs with a magnificent six straight down the ground.
This was a great win for England as Pakistan are the top T20 side in the world. Their attention now turns to the Cricket World Cup, which is just over three weeks away, with a five-match ODI series against Pakistan, which starts on Wednesday at The Oval.
Meanwhile, in Dublin, West Indies were setting records against Ireland. The opening partnership between John Campbell and Shai Hope was worth 365 runs, the most scored in a first-wicket partnership in ODIs, surpassing the previous record of 304 set by Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman of Pakistan against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo last year.
It was also the first time in ODI history that both West Indian openers made hundreds in the same innings. West Indies went on to win by 196 runs.