Cricket

England WIN the T20 World Cup after beating Pakistan by five wickets at the MCG

England tasted Twenty20 World Cup glory here today in the most dramatic style when Ben Stokes edged them past Pakistan in a thrilling, low scoring final.

Stokes made an unbeaten 52 and put on a decisive stand of 48 with Moeen Ali that calmed England’s nerves and saw them past Pakistan’s 137 for eight with six balls to spare.

Yet if that seemed comfortable it was anything but, with Pakistan bowling brilliantly in defence of their average total on a used pitch until they lost their spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi with what looked like a recurrence of his knee injury.

Stokes hit the winning run as England won the T20 World Cup final by five wickets - their second crown in the format

Ben Stokes hit the winning run as England won the T20 World Cup final by five wickets

The talismanic all-rounder finished 52 not out off 49 balls to steer England home

The talismanic all-rounder finished 52 not out off 49 balls to steer England home

But that should take nothing away from the performance of Stokes who was brilliant in batting the situation, just as he was in the decisive group game against Sri Lanka, to lead England home and unite the 50-over and t20 world titles.

Jubilation then for England who can rightly now claim to be one of the best white-ball sides of all time after completing their transformation from the dark days before the 2015 World Cup to become the epitome of modern limited-overs excellence.

This is their second T20 title, following Paul Collingwood’s triumph in 2010, their second World Cup of the post 2015 era following their fabled 50-over triumph in 2019 and their fifth consecutive appearance in the last four of a global white-ball tournament.

England are the first side to hold the 50-over World Cup and T20 World Cup simultaneously

England are the first side to hold the 50-over World Cup and T20 World Cup simultaneously

Sam Curran was named Player of the Match and Tournament after finishing with 3-12

Sam Curran was named Player of the Match and Tournament after finishing with 3-12

And it confirmed Jos Buttler as the rightful captain of this side, winning a trophy in his first tournament in charge after taking over from Eoin Morgan last summer.

The first victory came when the game started on time in defiance of the gloomy forecasts all week that said both this and Monday’s reserve day could be wash-outs.

In the event no rain fell on Melbourne before the start and only minor showers fell during the game and if the Australian meteorology experts had almost as bad a World Cup as their cricketers then England also got off to a slightly nervy start in this final.

Pakistan fell just short of upsetting England after a thrilling affair at the MCG

Pakistan fell just short of upsetting England after a thrilling affair at the MCG

Stokes came in with England on the brink of the collapse and again them saw them home

Stokes came in with England on the brink of the collapse and again them saw them home

The last time Stokes bowled in a Twenty20 World Cup final his last four balls all disappeared for six from the bat of Carlos Braithwaite and West Indies had snatched the 2016 title from England’s clutches at Kolkata.

Now Stokes bowled a no ball and a wide with his first two balls but England settled when it became clear that a pitch which, inexplicably for a major final, had been used for two previous matches in this tournament was spicy, two-paced and not easy for batting.

Pakistan rely heavily on their openers but Mohammad Rizwan would have been run out in the first over had Chris Jordan hit the stumps. Instead he hit Chris Woakes for six to record the first boundary in the final and was then bowled via an inside edge by Sam Curran.

Shaheen Shah Afridi injured himself after taking a catch to dismiss Harry Brook

Shaheen Shah Afridi injured himself after taking a catch to dismiss Harry Brook 

He returned to the field after receiving treatment, but had to eventually hobble off injured

He returned to the field after receiving treatment, but had to eventually hobble off injured

Afridi bowled Alex Hales with the final ball of the first over, to rock England's hopes

Afridi bowled Alex Hales with the final ball of the first over, to rock England’s hopes

This was a steady rather than spectacular start from Pakistan, just as India had produced in the semi-final against England, and they had only reached 39 for one with 18 dot balls by the end of the six-over power-play.

Then it was time for Adil Rashid, outstanding in the last three must-win matches, to go about his work and what followed was a brilliant spell of leg-spin that saw Rashid claim the wicket of Mohammad Haris with his first ball and end up with two for 22 off his four overs.

Rashid went wicketless in England’s first three games but once the stakes became higher he has risen to the occasion here and in the last three games has the combined figures of four for 58 in 12 overs. – including that T20 rarity, a wicket-maiden, here.

The wicket that fell in that superb Rashid over, the 12th of the innings, belonged to the captain and key batter in Babar Azam and once he had gone Pakistan were always struggling to reach a formidable total.

Jos Buttler played some superb shots for his 26, but was dismissed by Haris Rauf

Jos Buttler played some superb shots for his 26, but was dismissed by Haris Rauf

Rauf removed Buttler in the sixth over to leave England reeling at 45-3

Rauf removed Buttler in the sixth over to leave England reeling at 45-3

Pakistan had their tails up as England's top order crumbled on a difficult pitch at the MCG

Pakistan had their tails up as England’s top order crumbled on a difficult pitch at the MCG

Curran, arguably England’s player of the tournament, completed the exceptional figures of three for 12 off his four overs to move on to 15 World Cup wickets – and had Reece Topley not been injured in freak circumstances before the warm-up game against Pakistan in Brisbane he might not even have started in this tournament.

Pakistan reached 137 for eight in their 20 overs in front of a mass of green in the form of their support and it looked at least 20 short against an excellent English attack.

But with their own formidable attack and a pitch that was getting harder and harder for batting they were still in with a chance of repeating their 50-over World Cup win over England on this same ground 30 years ago.

Pakistan certainly had the attack to make this far from straightforward and Shaheen did a passable impression of Wasim Akram in 1992 when he swung a ball into Alex Hales pads and had him bowled in the first over.

That brought in Phil Salt for his first bat in this tournament and he could only edge his first ball through his legs for a boundary off Naseem Shah. It did not get any easier for Salt who survived a reviewed lbw shout on five and then his final was over when he pulled the rapid Haris Rauf limply to mid-wicket.

Adil Rashid was again outstanding, finishing his four overs with figures of 2-22

Adil Rashid was again outstanding, finishing his four overs with figures of 2-22

Rashid snared the wickets of Mohammad Haris and Babar Azam

Rashid snared the wickets of Mohammad Haris and Babar Azam

Curran got the breakthrough for England in the fifth over, removing Muhammad Rizwan

Curran got the breakthrough for England in the fifth over, removing Muhammad Rizwan 

While Buttler was there England were always on top and he played one incredible scoop off Naseem Shah, who was hooping the ball round corners, that sailed into the stands for six. But Rauf produced one that moved off the pitch and took his edge. Game, with England on 45 for three in the sixth over, very much on.

The final became really tense as rain started to fall, Pakistan bowled brilliantly and England tried to keep ahead of the DLS target, with Harry Brook falling to Shadab Khan when Shaheen seemed to hurt himself taking the catch on the boundary.

It was to prove a critical moment as Shaheen tried to come back and bowl his last two overs but could manage just one ball before he had to hobble off. How England then grabbed their opportunity, Stokes hitting Iftikhar Ahmed’s off-breaks for four and six after he had come on to complete Shaheen’s over and then Moeen going after Mohammad Wasim.

Moeen was to fall with six needed but Stokes moved on to what was remarkably his first half century in T20 cricket for England as victory came in front of 80,462 at the MCG.

Relieve all the action from England’s triumph in the T20 World Cup final with Sportsmail’s live blog brought to you by Dan Cancia here.


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