KARACHI -Visiting side England beat Pakistan by six wickets in the opening Twenty20 International played here at the National Stadium Karachi on Tuesday night, caping their return to Pakistan after 17 years in a memorable way. 

Opener Alex Hales hit a 40-ball 53 -- his first international after a three-year absence on a failed recreational drug test -- to anchor England’s chase of a modest 159-run target in 19.2 overs. Pakistan opener Mohammad Rizwan scored 46-ball 68 to help Pakistan to 158-7 in their 20 overs after England sent them in to bat at a capacity National stadium. 

The win gives England a 1-0 lead in the seven-match series. Pakistan’s players wore a special kit in the game on which their names and numbers are shown submerged in water, to show solidarity with victims of the floods in the country. England’s players wore black armbands as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II who died earlier this month. 

Hales, recalled after injury ruled out Jonny Bairstow, smashed seven boundaries and added 55 for the fourth wicket with Harry Brook who finished with 42 not out. Brook, one of seven England players to feature in this year’s Pakistan Super League, cracked seven boundaries in a robust 25-ball knock. 

Ben Duckett (21), Dawid Malan (20) and Phil Salt (ten) were other England contributors. Pakistan’s innings was once again held by Rizwan. Rizwan, top run-getter in the Asia Cup earlier this month with 281, knocked six boundaries and two sixes and put on 85 for the first wicket with skipper Babar Azam (31) after England won the toss and fielded. 

Iftikhar Ahmed hit three sixes in his 17-ball 28 but Pakistan managed just 71 runs in the last ten overs, losing six wickets. Debutant Shan Masood failed with just seven runs while Haider Ali scored eleven. England debutant paceman Luke Wood finished with 3-24, while spinner Adil Rashid took 2-27. The remaining matches are in Karachi (September 22, 23, 25) and in Lahore (September 28, 30 and October 2). 

Luke Wood won the Player of the Match award. “Very enjoyable performance. It’s my debut, so can’t complain. It’s obviously different to England. They had a good start, but you kind of work it out quickly. We kept taking wickets, which was key, and had a pretty good backend,” said Luke Wood.  

Scores in brief

ENGLAND 160 for 4 (Hales 53, Brook 42*) beat PAKISTAN 158 for 7 (Rizwan 68, Wood 3-24) by six wickets.