England overwhelm Pakistan in final T20 before World Cup defence

England’s Jonny Bairstow (R) plays a shot as Pakistan’s Azam Khan (L) keeps wicket during the fourth T20 international cricket match between England and Pakistan at The Oval, in London on May 30, 2024. AFP

Reigning champions England produced a fine all-round display as they beat Pakistan by seven wickets at The Oval on Thursday in their last competitive match before they begin the defence of their Twenty20 World Cup title.

England restricted Pakistan to a modest 157 after winning the toss, with leg-spinner Adil Rashid, the player-of-the-match taking 2-27 from his maximum four overs.

They then made a rapid start to their chase as Phil Salt (45) and skipper Jos Buttler (39) shared a blistering opening stand of 82 inside seven overs.

Harry Brook ended the game with a six off paceman Haris Rauf, the pick of the Pakistan attack with 3-38, as England finished on 158-6 to win with more than three overs to spare.

Victory gave England a 2-0 triumph in a four-match T20 series where games at Headingley and Cardiff were both washed out without a ball bowled.

“We have worked hard in training and there is a good feeling around the squad,” Buttler told Sky Sports.

Buttler was leading England after his wife gave birth to the couple’s third child following his dashing 84 in the hosts’ 23-run win in the second T20 at Edgbaston.

“It would have been nice to get two more games in to expose a few guys to different situations,” Buttler added.

“But we have really good experience in the group and a lot of guys have been playing in the IPL (Indian Premier League), so we are not short of cricket.”

Both England openers launched Naseem Shah for huge sixes before Salt holed out off Rauf for a quickfire 45.

Pakistan middle order must ‘step up’

Earlier, Pakistan had been well-placed at 59-0 after losing the toss at an overcast Oval.

But they slumped to 86-5, the collapse starting when captain Babar Azam was caught at slip for a brisk 36 off fast bowler Jofra Archer.

“It went well for five or six overs but then I got out,” said Azam. “The middle order needs to step up.

“We need to sort out those things for the World Cup. We have a few injuries but there are a lot of positives. Our play is good in patches.”

Pakistan were also undone by a disciplined England attack, with Rashid telling reporters: “As a unit I thought we bowled exceptionally well. I know they (Pakistan) got off to a great start, but that’s T20 cricket.”

Rashid was also enthused by the sight of injury-prone quicks Archer and Mark Wood, who took wickets with sharp bouncers, bowling in tandem.

“Jof and Woody, when you watch them bowl it is exciting,” he said.

“Seeing the ball zip off the pitch, the keeper taking it really high and it’s exciting to have two quality, world-class bowlers in our squad.”

England launch their T20 World Cup campaign against Scotland in Barbados on June 4, with 2009 champions Pakistan in action two days later against co-hosts the United States in Dallas.

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