|Seventh Twenty20 international, Lahore|
|England 209-3 (20 overs): Malan 78*, Brook 46*|
|Pakistan 142-8 (20 overs): Masood 56, Woakes 3-26|
|England won by 67 runs|
Dawid Malan thumped an unbeaten 78 to help England to a comprehensive 67-run win over Pakistan in the seventh Twenty20 international to take the series 4-3.
Having been asked to bat first in Lahore, England piled on the runs with Malan making Pakistan pay for dropping him on 29 and 62 as he lifted the visitors to 209-3.
Harry Brook’s fine form continued as he made 46 not out from 29 balls – having been dropped on 24 – in an unbroken stand of 108 with Malan.
Babar Azam was responsible for two of those dropped catches and could not atone with the bat, falling to Chris Woakes in the first over of the chase.
Reece Topley bowled Mohammad Rizwan two balls later and, with their two in-form openers gone early, Pakistan were unable to recover and limped to 142-8. Woakes took 3-26 and David Willey chipped in with 2-22, also claiming his 50th T20 international wicket.
England now head to Australia for a three-match T20 series before starting their T20 World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on 22 October. Meanwhile, Pakistan will travel to New Zealand for a T20 tri-series that also includes Bangladesh.
Pakistan lend helping hand as Malan finds form
After their staggeringly quick start in the last game, England’s openers got off to a flyer again but two wickets in three balls brought the onslaught to an abrupt end.
Alex Hales was pinned lbw by Mohammad Hasnain and, two balls later, a mix-up between Malan and Phil Salt saw the latter run out at the non-striker’s end after being turned down for a single.
Salt’s reaction suggested he was in little doubt over where the blame lay but Malan was able to spend the rest of the innings making amends.
The left-hander swatted Shadab Khan over deep mid-wicket for six with Ben Duckett adding another maximum down the ground later in the ninth over to take England’s run-rate back over 10 an over, where it stayed for the vast majority of the innings.
Malan has been short of runs in the series, with a highest score of 36, but with the help of Pakistan fielders, he was able to improve on that.
Firstly, soon after some excellent glovework from Rizwan saw Duckett run out, he drilled Iftikhar to extra cover but Babar shelled the catch.
The Pakistan skipper then dropped a dolly to give Brook a reprieve and deny the impressive Haris Rauf a wicket, and the fast bowler was let down by his fielders again as Mohammad Wasim spilled a skier to give Malan another life on 62.
The former world number one T20 batter further punished Wasim, who went for 61 from his four overs, with his third six of the innings to start the final over as, in a timely return to form, he produced a typical Malan knock: a steady start before a sharp acceleration later in the innings, scoring freely square of the wicket.
‘Nobody likes the approach’ – Pakistan legends unhappy with hosts’ tactics
In a series that has provided so much entertainment, the decider was a let-down.
There has been a sharp contrast in the way the two sides have approached things with the bat and the series finale was perhaps the clearest example of that.
While England have gone hard from ball one and backed their batting depth to enable them to maintain that throughout, Pakistan have adopted a more old-school method, building gradually before going hell for leather in the latter stages.
However, when the openers have not fired, they have run into trouble and, with Babar and Rizwan both dismissed eight balls into the innings in the decider, Pakistan looked to lack the belief that they could win the match and by the time they might have wanted to kick on, the game was lost.
Legendary Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram was particularly unhappy with the home team’s efforts with the bat.
“When Pakistan came out to bat, they thought the match was finished when Babar and Rizwan departed in the second over,” he told Sky Sports.
“I don’t mind any team losing, as long as they go for it, try it. You can’t take the game long because of the required rate. Half the stadium is empty, people have gone.
“The people of Pakistan love and understand cricket. They understand when the team goes for it and loses. But when you are not even trying to win the match, that will definitely hurt the fans.”
Fellow Pakistan great Waqar Younis was also disappointed to see Pakistan’s middle order more concerned with trying to bat out the overs than attempt to chase down the admittedly mammoth target.
“Once again, the intent was missing,” he said. “You are going to lose two early wickets, maybe three, but you’ve got to keep going. There is no point hanging in there knowing you are going to lose.
“That’s why the criticism is going to come, the crowd have left – nobody likes the approach. The way Pakistan have approached this game, too many dot deliveries, not enough boundaries. They gave up very, very early in the game.”
‘We saw this as a final’ – reaction
England captain Moeen Ali: “Brilliant game today, we played really well from the start. We had two must-win games, to come back and win them is good to see.
“We’re in a good position, and it shows the depth we have. I also just want to say thank you to everyone here, and the PCB for looking after us.”
England batter Dawid Malan: “We saw this as a final and the last game as a semi-final and so to be able to do it under pressure and put on a big score like that was fantastic for us as a batting unit.
“We felt the first 12-14 overs it was coming on really nicely and then it slowed quite a lot towards the end. We actually found it quite tough in those last five overs.”
Pakistan captain Babar Azam: “The total put pressure on us and on our batsmen. We had a plan but we didn’t execute it well and our fielding wasn’t up to the mark. If we didn’t drop the catches then it would be a different story.
“This series was vital for us and there are things that have opened up for us about where to improve, especially as the T20 World Cup is a short format, so it’s important we improve.”