By our correspondent
KARACHI: Pakistan were off to a stunning start to their T20 Series against England when they defeated the hosts by 31 runs despite a class hundred from Liam Livingstone.
Livingstone smashed a stunning 43-ball 103, which is also the third-highest score by a batsman batting at No 5 in T20 cricket. His ton came up in just 42 deliveries, making it the quickest by an England batter and featured six fours and nine sixes, but England were still bowled out for 201 chasing Pakistan’s total of 232/6.
Sent out to bat first, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan putting up a 150-run opening-stand in less than 15 overs that proved the bedrock of Pakistan’s biggest ever total in T20I cricket.
Held to just 11 runs across the first two overs, the tourists showed signs of accelerating in the third over as Azam hit David Willey (1/39) for three consecutive fours in a 16-run over. However, by the end of the Powerplay Pakistan were only 49/1 and at the halfway stage in their innings 80/0. It was in the second 10 overs that the carnage began.
Azam brought up his fifty in just 35 balls in an 11th over that also saw Rizwan pick up two boundaries off Livingstone (0/24) and in the 12th both men deposited Matt Parkinson (0/47) for sixes. The leg-spinner was hit for another 18 runs in his next over, and seamer Lewis Gregory was dealt similar treatment in the 15th over as he went for 16 runs, while accounting for Rizwan for 63.
Sohaib Maqsood only hung around for seven deliveries but made them count, helping himself to 19 runs with two sixes and a four before falling to Tom Curran (2/47) in the 16th. Azam’s fall for 85 to Willey in the 17th did little to slow the run-scoring, with Mohammad Hafeez smashing 24 off 10 and Fakhar Zaman 26 off eight before falling in the 19th and 20th overs respectively.
Pakistan’s defence of 232 started on the right foot when Shaheen Afridi (3/30) took a smart diving catch off his own bowling to remove Dawid Malan (1) in the second over. Jason Roy wasted little time getting the chase back on track, hitting three sixes off Imad Wasim (1/46) in the third over, only for England to be dealt successive blows when Afridi removed Jonny Bairstow (11) in the fourth and Mohammad Hasnain (1/28) dismissed Moeen Ali (1) in the fifth.
Moeen’s fall brought Livingstone to the crease and he looked at ease from the onset, hitting four sixes and a four as he raced to 32 in just 10 deliveries before Shadab Khan (3/52) removed Roy for 32 off 13.
By the ninth over, Livingstone had raced to his half-century in just 17 deliveries – the fastest by an England batter in a men’s T20I – with 30 of those runs coming in sixes. With the right-hander in an imperious mood, the hosts had flown past the 100-run-mark in less than nine overs.
However, while Livingstone was seeing them well, he lacked company, with Morgan Fittingly Livingstone raised his century with a six in the 17th over but when he fell on the very next delivery, England’s hopes looked slim and so it proved. Despite a 16-run cameo from Willey, Pakistan held their nerve to see out the match from there. The two teams next meet on Sunday.