Alex Hales & Luke Wood star as England win first game in Pakistan in 17 years

Lancashire’s left-arm sailor Luke Wood won his international debut by 3:24
First T20, Karachi
Pakistan 158-7 (20 overs): Rizwan 68 (46), Babar 31 (24); L Wood 3-24, Rashid 2-27
England 160-4 (19.2 overs): Hales 53 (40), Bach 42* (25); Qadir 2-36
England won by six wickets; Lead series 1:0

Returning Alex Hales hit 53 and debutant Luke Wood made it 3-24 as England clinched a six-wicket Twenty20 win over Pakistan in their first game in the country in 17 years.

Hales chased 159 to victory, hitting seven fours in a controlled and mature shot in his first appearance in England since 2019, when he was eliminated from the World Cup squad for off-field problems.

His fifty gave England a platform for victory, with Harry Brook making 42 not from 25 balls in just his fifth T20 to lead the tourists home with four balls left.

Previously, Pakistan went 158-7, with Mohammad Rizwan hitting 68 balls from 46 while opening partner and captain Babar Azam added 31 balls from 24.

Wood was joined by Adil Rashid who went 2-27 including the key wicket from Babar with a brilliant googly to end an 85 run opening stand.

The game was England’s first in the country in 6,118 days since a Test and one-day international tour in December 2005.

No country visited Pakistan between 2009 and 2015 after a 2009 attack by gunmen on the Sri Lankan team’s bus. Teams have returned sporadically since then.

England were due to tour last winter but pulled out after New Zealand’s men cut short their tour of Pakistan over a security threat.

The second game of the seven-game series, which is a build-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November, takes place on Thursday at 15:30 BST.

Hales and Brook push for World Cup cases

The running chart shows Alex Hales scoring 53 points with 7 fours, 1 treble, 1 double and 20 singles for England

Hales has admitted he thought his chances of playing for England again might have faded during his three-year exile, but a loss of form for Jason Roy and a serious leg injury by Jonny Bairstow gave the 33-year-old another chance.

His swing combined power, touch and superb placement as the right-hander reached every width and length, dropping deep into his crease to clip to the offside line on numerous occasions.

He was dropped to 28 by Shan Masood after mistaking a slog sweep but made the most of his reprieve and was frustrated when he chipped to cover the ball after reaching his fifty, with England needing just 17, in order to win.

Hales shared 34 partnerships with Trent Rockets teammates Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett and was playing his first game since 2019, but the telling partnership was the 55 he made with Brook.

Yorkshire’s Brook, 23, had offered glimpses of his talent in his first four games without a particularly meaningful contribution and started patiently here before targeting Shahnawaz Dahani in the 15th over.

The tourists needed 52 balls from 36 but Brook increased the first ball to four before two more limitations followed as the game swung significantly in England’s favour.

The next over went for 13, including a beautiful straight drive over mid-off from Brook, and despite Hales’ wicket, Brook and reserve captain Moeen Ali saw England over the line.

Wood impresses on debut

Luke Woods Bowling: 38% full, 54% good length and 8% short.  4 overs, 0 maidens, went for 24 runs, took 3 wickets with an economy of 6.00.

A tour of England in Pakistan is significant. The tourists are a cricket powerhouse and apart from India they are the nation the hosts would most like to return to.

The players walked out to a boisterous crowd after a minute’s silence for the flood victims in Pakistan and Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with many using their telephone flares to create an amphitheater of light.

It gave the hosts a boost as Rizwan and Babar attacked England from the start, racing to 85-0 after 9.2 overs before Rashid sent off the latter.

From that moment England struck back, able to apply pressure with tight lines and a flawless field performance.

Wood, 27, was a The Hundred success for Trent Rockets, with his performances in competition hastening his progress after impressive T20 blast campaigns for Lancashire, and on the strength of that evidence he will have no trouble establishing himself in the international arena.

On his first wicket he ripped the stump out of Mohammad Nawaz before catching Iftikhar Ahmed and Naseem Shah three balls down in the final, his changes in pace and distance proving effective.

England have doubts about the fitness of Chris Woakes (knee), Mark Wood (elbow) and Chris Jordan (fingers), all three of whom are in the 15-man squad for the World Cup, so others like Wood – who’s not in that squad – know they have a chance to impress.

Moeen (1-23) had Rizwan stumped and Sam Curran took 1-30 but colleague David Willey struggled with his left arm and conceded 41 from his four overs.

“Hales showed how good he is” – Reaction

England captain Moeen Ali: “Overall a brilliant performance. We pulled it back well in the middle overs and on death with the ball. Credit to our bowlers, they set it up for the batsmen.

“Luke Wood scored crucial wickets for us. He excelled in his debut, sticking his chest out and bowling well along with Adil Rashid. It wasn’t easy for the batters coming in.

“We hunted it skillfully. Alex Hales has shown how good he is after coming back after a long time. Harry Brook has shown a lot of confidence and that looks great for the future.”

Pakistani captain Babar Azam: “The way Rizwan and I played on the power play was very good. We stuck to the plan and after that England bowled well. There could have been a better partnership.

“England have planned well and started bowling at a certain pace so we have to give them credit but our batsmen have to step up too.”

England batsman Harry Brook talks to Sky Sports: “Having a bit of experience from the Pakistan Super League, I tried to keep the ball on the ground and be here at the end of the game. The pitches here are usually low and slippery.

“It feels very safe with security. I have someone who follows me every time I go to the bathroom!”

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