England 160 for 4 (Hales 53, Brook 42*) beat Pakistan 158 for 7 (Rizwan 68, Wood 3-24) by six wickets
In response, Hales was the glue that held England’s chase together. Phil Salt was brilliantly held at deep square leg and Usman Qadir struck with his second ball to remove Dawid Malan; but Ben Duckett swept and reverse-swept – with varying degrees of success – to keep the required rate in hand. Brook then produced perhaps the most fluent innings of the night, producing a number of eye-catching shots in his 25-ball innings, including the winning hit over extra cover.
It had been 1291 days since Hales last batted in an England shirt, and plenty of water has flowed under the bridge in the intervening period. Plenty of runs have flowed from Hales’ bat, too, and he continued that prolific form in the shortest format with his first T20I fifty since July 2018 (1538 days ago, to be precise).
His second legitimate delivery was clattered through backward point in trademark, long-levered style and, although he was not at his most fluent, there was plenty of ringcraft about Hales’ innings as he anchored the chase. Three of his first seven balls went to the rope, as he looked to push England ahead of the required rate, but he was then content to tick along – although content might not be the right word, on the evidence of several frustrated yells as he struggled for timing during the middle overs.
Hales only managed one boundary with the field out between the seventh and 14th overs, and on 28 from 22 he was dropped in the deep by Shan Masood looking to manufacture a slog-sweep off Usman Qadir. But the target was always in range and, with 52 needed from 36, Brook and Hales suddenly clicked into gear, the latter going from 38 off 32 to 53 off 39 before holing out to cover with only the finishing touches required.
Despite their gluttonous exploits as an opening pair, there has been a little heat on the Babar-Rizwan combination recently. Babar made 68 runs in six innings at the Asia Cup and, while he clearly needed time in the middle in search of some form, there had been a suggestion that Rizwan would be rested, allowing Masood to bat in his preferred position at opener and Mohammad Haris to take the gloves.
Instead, Rizwan’s name was in its usual spot on the teamsheet at the toss, and the regular openers walked out together after England had opted to bowl. Rizwan was busy looking for singles and Babar stroked his first ball through the covers; boundaries were picked off around the ground as they raised their ninth 50-plus opening stand for Pakistan. Moeen Ali was smoked over long-on as Rizwan went to a 32-ball fifty.
England selected a much-changed side, with Hales back, Phil Salt opening for the first time and Duckett playing his second T20I three years on from the first. The only new cap was Wood, an unused member of the ODI squad in the Netherlands earlier this year. A third left-armer in the XI, alongside David Willey and Sam Curran, Wood brought a few mph extra pace to the equation – as well as the confidence of an impressive season in the Hundred, where he led the attack for eventual champions, Trent Rockets.
Usually charged with the new ball in search of early swing, Wood was instead first change, but conceded just 12 runs from his two overs in the powerplay. When he returned later in the innings, he produced a beauty to clean up Mohammad Nawaz for his first international wicket, nipping the ball back past an expansive swing to flatten off stump. Just four runs came off the 18th over and although he started the 20th with a full toss that sailed for six, a sequence of W-1-W-dot-1 meant England finished in confident mood.