Clinical England claim ICC T20 World Cup 2022 title with comprehensive win over Pakistan
In a contest between a team riding a huge wave of sentiments, strong luck and some strong performances towards the later part of the tournament, against a side which has most pragmatically approached the shortest version of cricket to redefine the way it is played, there was a clear winner.
England became only the second team after the West Indies to win the ICC T20 World Cup trophy for the second time in history and became the first team to hold both 50-over and 20-over trophies simultaneously in the history of the sport.
England’s cricketing renaissance began after their humiliating exit from the ICC World Cup 2015 post their loss to Bangladesh, and seven years later, they have emerged as the strongest white-ball team on the planet with the rest of the world acknowledging their brilliance and prowess.
There were no clear favourites at the start of play on Sunday when England and Pakistan took field at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), but it did not take long for things to become clear as to which team was favourite, deserving and more likely to emerge victorious.
Like they had done to the high-flying India in the semi-final, England bowlers strangled Pakistan batting to restrict them to a poor total of 137/8 inside 20 overs, a target which was certainly easy but to their credit, Pakistan bowlers made it incredibly difficult to achieve.
Adil Rashid was once again one of the key conspirators of Pakistan’s downfall with the bat in the first half of the match, but the pick among the bowlers, one who also went on to win the Player of the Match as well as the Player of the Tournament award later in the evening, was Sam Curran.
The diminutive English bowling all-rounder Sam Curran returned with magical numbers of 4-0-12-3, snaffling the wickets of Mohammed Rizwan (15), Shan Masood (38) and Mohammad Nawaz (5) to break the back of Pakistan batting, in the company of Adil Rashid, who returned with 4-1-22-2.
Chris Jordan was also among the wickets, dismissing the likes of Shadab Khan and Mohammad Wasim to return with 4-0-27-2.
Earlier in the game, a disciplined English bowling attack did not allow Pakistan batsmen to get off to a confident start or attain momentum of any sort at any stage in their innings, and the Babar Azam led side eventually collapsed.
The Pakistan captain himself scored 32 from 28 balls with the help of 2 boundaries while the left-handed batsman Shan Masood was the top scorer with 38 from 28 balls studded with 2 boundaries and a six.
Pakistani batsmen were guilty of not only rotating the strike but they could not also get boundaries to put the pressure back on England at any stage of the innings, while they kept losing wickets at regular intervals to be restricted to an underpar score in the World Cup final.
Pakistan once again needed a magical performance if they had to restrict England but despite a brilliant start provided by Shaheen Shah Afridi, who cleaned up Alex Hales for just 1 in the first over, they could not really threaten the long English lineup.
There were flashes of brilliance certainly with Nasim Shah producing some unplayable deliveries against England captain Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes also being challenged throughout the innings, but Pakistan just did not have enough runs on the board to go all out against England batting.
What also made matters worse for England was the breakdown of their premier fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, on whom pakistan had played a big gamble by pushing him into the tournament when he was not completely fit. He could send down only 2.1 overs before hobbling out off the field in the later stage of the game, which in a way indicated that the game was over for Pakistan.
England’s mercurial cricketer Ben Stokes was once again on the right side of the result, redeeming himself from the outcome of the 2016 World Cup final against the West Indies when he was hit for four consecutive sixes in the final over with the Caribbean side snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
On Sunday, the star English all-rounder not only hit the winning runs for his side but also brought up his maiden half-century in the format, absorbing all the pressure and challenges thrown at his side by the Pakistani bowlers to finish at 52 not out from 49 balls with the help of 4 boundaries and a six.
Among the other useful contributors were England captain Jos Buttler (26), Harry Brook (20) and Moeen Ali (19). For Pakistan, Haris Rauf was magnificent, returning with 4-0-23-2 while Naseem Shah was simply unfortunate not to have taken a wicket despite bowling as brilliantly as he did on Sunday night with his spell reading 4-0-30-0.