Cricket : Jason Roy, Adil Rashid tip scales for England in tense series decider

Watching international cricket at Old Trafford, it’s easy sometimes to forget you aren’t in the subcontinent for the atmosphere Asian fans bring to the stadium.

But it was the surface upon which England scraped to an achingly tense three-wicket victory over Pakistan which made you feel they might as well have been back playing cricket in the UAE.

A whirlwind half-century from Jason Roy helped England grab the momentum in a game that went to the final few deliveries, but he wasn’t by any means the only star contribution to a thrilling contest.

Adil Rashid had set up a chase of 155 for the batsmen with a career-best 4 for 35, picking off the Pakistan top three early in the first innings. At that stage, it looked below-par, but a slow burn of a classic was only just beginning to reveal its hand.

The visitors, who had opted to bat first after winning the toss, appeared always off-balance, behind the par score, and under pressure, even as they got off to a solid enough start, bringing up the 50 inside the Power play for the loss off just Babar Azam.

On a pitch that was taking more turn than any previously this series, that was more than good enough, with this never likely to be the sort of run-fest Headingley and Trent Bridge habitually play out.

The boundaries, too, were larger at Old Trafford than anywhere else in this T20I series, and both sides knew anything above 170 could become tricky to run down.

But once Rashid ploughed through Pakistan, they slumped into consolidation mode, which, in England, seems like a losing strategy.

The irrepressible Mohammad Rizwan carried his bat and dragged his side past 150, but the fireworks Pakistan might have been banking on at the death never quite materialized. Moeen Ali played a quiet but vital support act at one end, allowing just 19 in his four, and when Roy and Jos Buttler came out to bat, the spectre of a routine, one-sided chase hung gloomily over the contest.

Roy did little to alleviate that impression in a supreme assault on Shaheen Afridi first up, smashing, caressing and placing him for four fours in an over, before taking the attack to Imad Wasim and Usman Qadir.

His reputation against spin bowling stands significantly rehabilitated, and soon enough, the asking rate had been brought down below seven.

But England began to lose regular wickets to the spinners, and once Mohammad Hafeez was belatedly thrown into the mix, the asking rate crept back up, and Pakistan crept back into the contest.

Dawid Malan struggled to keep the runs flowing, and it wasn’t until Eoin Morgan clobbered Hasan Ali at the top and tail of the 18th over that the hosts climbed back into the ascendancy.

Pakistan continued to chip away with the wickets, but when Chris Jordan squeezed one into the leg side and hared back for the second, Pakistan had run out of runs to play with.

SUMMARIZED SCORES: England 155 for 7 (Roy 64) beat Pakistan 154 for 6 (Rizwan 76*, Rashid 4-35) by three wickets

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