England level T20 series despite Babar equalling Kohli's record

Visitors chase down 170 in just 14.3 overs against Pakistan in sixth T20 to force decider on Sunday

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam enjoyed another record-setting outing in T20 cricket but could not stop England from levelling the T20 series in Lahore on Friday.

Azam hit a 59-ball 87 not out that helped the hosts post 169-6 in the sixth T20 International. That, however, was not enough as Phil Salt smashed a career-best 41-ball 88 not out to help England prevail by eight wickets.

The England opener smashed three sixes and 13 fours in the third fastest half century by an England batsman in the shorter format to help his team chase down a target of 170 in just 14.3 overs.

Salt's fiery knock overshadowed Azam's innings that saw the Pakistan skipper equal India star Virat Kohli's record of the fastest man to 3,000 runs in T20 cricket.

“Thought the way we batted in particular was outstanding,” England captain Moeen Ali said. “Shows if you stick to the process, you don’t have to slog, you can play proper shots. And I thought the seamers were outstanding.”

In the absence of rested fast bowler Haris Rauf and an ill Naseem Shah, Pakistan’s pace bowlers struggled to halt Salt’s power-hitting.

Salt scored only 59 runs in the previous five games, but hit 13 fours and three sixes in a brutal display as hundreds of home team fans left the Gaddafi Stadium in disappointment midway through England’s run chase.

“It’s always a challenge at the top when you feel you’re playing well but picking out fielders and finding ways to get out,” Salt said about his previous innings. “Pleased with the backing from the management about how they want me to play … everyone’s trying to put their best foot forward and show the coaches how good they are.”

England, who failed to chase 146 on Wednesday, were given a rousing start by Salt and Alex Hales who compiled 50 in just three overs.

Hales, who hit four fours and a six in his 12-ball 27, holed out after a breezy 55-run start off just 24 balls before Dawid Malan helped add 73 for the second wicket with an 18-ball 26.

Ben Duckett remained not out on 26.

England's victory tied the seven-match series 3-3 with an intriguing final match in Lahore on Sunday.

Earlier, Pakistan was made to bat first and the top order struggled without the world’s top ranked T20 batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who was rested after scoring four half-centuries in the previous five games.

Rizwan’s replacement, wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris, scored 7 on debut before slicing an easy catch to short third man off Richard Gleeson, who replaced the rested Chris Woakes.

Shan Masood continued to struggle at No 3 as he was trapped lbw by David Willey for a duck, and Haider Ali couldn’t impress again by holing out in the deep on 18 off Sam Curran.

Babar held the innings together with Iftikhar Ahmed (31) and Mohammad Nawaz (12) as Pakistan made 99 runs in the latter half of their innings.

Updated: October 01, 2022, 4:45 AM