The similarities have ended. Pakistan’s dream of repeating their 1992 feat was shattered as a ruthless England defeated Babar Azam and Co. to lift their second T20 World Cup title.
The similarities have ended. Pakistan’s dream of repeating their 1992 feat was shattered as a ruthless England defeated Babar Azam and Co. to lift their second T20 World Cup title. 12 years removed from their maiden triumph in the West Indies, England, who were already the 50-over World Champions, strengthened their foothold in T20Is too, with Jos Buttler’s team completing a comprehensive five-wicket win. On the big stage, it was once again that man, Ben Stokes, who rose to the occasion and shepherded England’s 138-run target with a half-century, after Sam Curran‘s 3/12 restricted Pakistan to 137/8. Curran’s bowling figures took his wickets tally to 13 runs, which fetched him the Player of the Tournament award, to go with the Player of the Match honour.
Ever since Pakistan qualified for the semifinals of the T20 World Cup 2022, there has been endless noise as to how their current campaign is strikingly similar to the 1992 50-overs World Cup, also held in Australia. The rise-from-the-Ashes story, and MCG final, against the same opponent from 30 years ago… heck, the trivia-obsessed statisticians even dup up a couple of unreal resemblances – such as the first ball of the match being a no-ball and the Pakistan losing their fifth wicket. However, despite all the coincidences, the end result was different. Stokes, who three years ago played a monumental knock in the final of the 50-over World Cup at Lord’s, did it again here at the MCG to make England the undisputed World Champions of white-ball cricket.
It was almost as if England continued their batting from where they left off against India. The love story between Shaheen Afridi and first overs continued as the left-arm quick stunned Alex Hales with his pace – the England opener cried out ‘Woahhh‘, failing to get his down in time to see his stumps rattled – but it was almost as if England and Jos Buttler were not even bothered as the skipper and Phil Salt collected six boundaries and a six inside the Powerplay.
Pakistan continued to chip in though. Salt was caught at midwicket and Haris Rauf finally got the dangerous Buttler to nick one to keeper after Naseem Shah beat his edge four times the over before. At the six-over mark, England were 49/3, just 10 ahead of Pakistan but since Buttler and Salt had gotten off the blocks with a quickfire stand taking the current run rate above the required, Ben Stokes and Harry Brook had time to play themselves in.
But Pakistan did not throw in the towel. The raw pace of Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah resulted in countless swings and misses – in fact, Naseem beat Stokes and Brook’s edge five times in an over. The pressure paid off as Shadab took Brooke out, allowing Pakistan one foot inside the door, but it came at the cost of an injury to Shaheen Afridi, who hurt his knee while completing the catch. At the 12th over, mark, England were two runs behind Pakistan with the same number of overs down. Stokes, who was clearly struggling to put bat to bowl, finally broke the shackles with a boundary off Rauf – the first in five overs.
With 41 needed off 30 balls, it was anyone’s game, Pakistan brought Shaheen back, but after just one ball, he went off the ball. He was replaced by Iftikhar Ahmed, a gamble that did not play off as Stokes smoked the off-spinner for a four and a six. In the next over, it was Moeen Ali’s turn to take over, creaming three fours off Mohammad Wasim as England scored 26 off six deliveries, bringing the equation down to 12 needed off 18. With 6 needed off 11, Pakistan tasted their last success of the evening as Moeen played on, but his cameo had done the work for England. Liam Livingstone, the new man in, took a single to bring Stokes back on strike, and after hitting a boundary to get to a half-century, Stokes scored the winning runs to banish the demons of the World T20 six years ago in India.
Like England, Pakistan registered a rather comfortable win over New Zealand in the semifinals, but the same batting line-up that ran the Kiwis ragged, failed to turn up on the big occasion. Only four batters entered double digits with Shan Masood’s 38 and Babar Azam’s scratchy 32 lifting close to 140. Curran, one of the world’s brightest and young cricketers, took another step towards stardom picking up 3/12 and restricting Pakistan’s top order get off the blocks. Similar issues came back to haunt Pakistan, as they got stuck in the Powerplay. Once, from 29/0, Pakistan got reduced to 85/4, it was all downhill.
Adil Rashid’s wrist-spin was something Pakistan struggled against, coupled with Chris Jordan’s searing pace. Both Rashid and Jordan, who played a key role in England’s win over India in the previous knockout game, raced through the Pakistan middle order. With England getting regular breakthroughs, Pakistan had no other choice but to play steadily, with Masood and Shadab Khan forging a somewhat crucial 36-run partnership, but once they perished, Pakistan struggled. So much so that they scored just one boundary in the final four overs.