Alex Hales back in style as England win first T20 in Pakistan

Opener hits 53 in 40 balls during impressive victory in Karachi

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Alex Hales celebrated the end of his international exile with a crucial half-century as England’s first match in Pakistan for almost 17 years ended with victory in the first Twenty20.

The opener cracked 53 in 40 balls on his first England outing since March 2019 and marked the end of his spell in the wilderness by leading the way in a six-wicket success.

England had earlier done well to restrict the hosts to 158-7 in front of a sell-out 35,000 crowd at Karachi’s National Stadium, with debutant Luke Wood claiming an impressive 3-24.

Hales, back in his old opening slot, took his team within 17 of the winning line and hit seven boundaries before chipping to mid-off with the end in sight.

Harry Brook finished the job with a fluent 42 not out, including the winning four in the final over.

England captain Moeen Ali said: “A brilliant performance overall. Credit to our bowlers, as they set it up for the batters.

“Luke Wood got crucial wickets for us. He was outstanding on his debut, stuck his chest out and bowled well along with Adil Rashid. It wasn't easy for the batters coming in.

“We were smart with how we chased it down. Alex Hales showed how good he is, having come back in after a long time. Harry Brook showed a lot of confidence and that looks great for the future.”

Hales’ much-discussed return started modestly, Naseem Shah slipping one through to the keeper as he wafted stiffly outside off. He was more assertive next up, though, lashing his next ball through cover point for four.

Phil Salt, his rival for a place at next month’s World Cup, had enjoyed an even brisker start when he hit the ropes from the first ball of the innings, but was brilliantly caught by Haider Ali after middling a pull to deep square.

Hales eased a couple more boundaries through the covers as he settled back into a familiar groove, leading England to 47-1 by the end of the powerplay.

Hales looked relieved when he reached 50, taking in a moment that would never have come without Eoin Morgan’s retirement or Jonny Bairstow’s freak injury, but popped up a simple catch just seconds later.

Brook ensured no drama, helping himself to seven fours in a vibrant 25-ball cameo.

Pakistan got the game off to flyer, with Mohammad Rizwan (68) and Babar Azam (31) cashing in on a lightning outfield. They took a particular liking to David Willey, who was unable to extract his usual swing with the new ball, as he leaked 26 from two costly overs at the top.

But Lancashire left-armer Wood slowed the hosts a solid introduction, allowing just 12 off his first two overs. “It was very enjoyable it was my debut so can't complain,” he said.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 6:49 PM
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