LAHORE  - Philip Salt shone with bat and guided England to a comfortable eight-wicket win over Pakistan and also helped the side level the T20I series 3-3 here at the pack-to-capacity Gaddafi Stadium on Friday night.  

Chasing a modest total of 170 runs, England were off to a flying start, thanks to Salt’s sparkling 41-ball 88 runs knock that included 13 boundaries and three maximums. He not only punished the hosts bowlers at his will but also finished the match in great style, helping England take the series into a decider to be played on Sunday.  Salt’s opening partner Alex Hales also batted well and contributed with significant 27 runs off 12 balls with the help of four fours and one six, while Dawid Malan, the second batter England lost during their run-chase, also gave fruitful company to Salt, scoring 18-ball 26 wrapped with five boundaries. Ben Duckett also gathered 26 runs off just 16 balls with the help of four fours.  It was Pakistani all-rounder Shadab Khan, who just grabbed two wickets while rest of the hosts bowlers failed to take even a single wicket.  

Earlier, Babar Azam played a captain’s innings to help his side post a decent total of 169 on the board for the loss of 6 wickets. After losing two quick wickets, when English bowlers bowled brilliantly and dismissed debutant Muhammad Haris and Shan Masood in quick succession, captain Babar stood tall and hammered 87 runs off 59 balls and gave respect to Pakistan’s total.  

With his brilliant knock, Babar Azam completed 3000 runs in T20Is, becoming the fifth men’s player and eighth overall to the milestone in the format, and also the joint-quickest to it alongside Virat Kohli. The skipper achieved this feat during his half-century against England in the sixth T20I of the seven-match series.  

The next Pakistan batter in the list is Muhammad Hafeez with 2514 runs followed by Bismah Maroof with 2388 runs. Shoaib Malik and Rizwan are the only others outside these three from Pakistan with more than 2000 T20I runs. 

Veteran Iftikhar Ahmed was the other top scorer from the hosts as he played 21 balls to gather 31 runs with the help of two fours and as many sixes. Haider Ali could contribute 18 runs and Muhammad Nawaz 12 runs as no other Pakistani batter could cross the double figures. For England, David Willey and Sam Curran were main wicket-takers as they bagged two wickets each for 32 and 26 runs respectively, while Richard Gleeson and Reece Topley got a scalp each. 

In the post-match talk, player of the match Philip Salt said: “It’s nice timing, to do it when the series is in the balance, so I’m very happy. It’s always a challenge when you feel like you’re playing well but you’re getting out, so I’m very grateful for the backing I’ve had from my teammates and the management. It’s very clear the way they want me to play.”

Scores in brief

ENGLAND 170 for 2 (Philip Salt 87*, Alex Hales 27; Shadab 2-34) beat PAKISTAN 169 for 6 (Babar Azam 87*, Iftikhar Ahmed 31; Sam Curran 2-26, David Willey 2-32) by 8 wickets.