T20 World Cup: Ben Stokes slams unbeaten 52 as England beat Pakistan, become white-ball kings

Photo Courtesy: ICC

Melbourne | All-rounder Ben Stokes showed calmness and poise in his typical gritty style to slam an unbeaten 52 in guiding England to the Men’s T20 World Cup title with a five-wicket win over Pakistan in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here on Sunday.

Six years after Stokes was left heartbroken in the 2016 final at Kolkata when Carlos Brathwaite hit him for four consecutive sixes in the final over, Stokes finally found redemption by rising to the occasion in a big match and sealing England’s second T20 World Cup trophy.

The win also makes England the first-ever side in men’s international cricket to hold two World Cup trophies at the same time, after Stokes played a pivotal role in the 2019 ODI World Cup final win at home, with ‘Sweet Caroline’ being played at the MCG.

Chasing 138, England lost Alex Hales in the opening over, as Shaheen Shah Afridi got one to shape back in and take out the middle stump. He and Naseem Shah tried to find some swing, but Jos Buttler hit three boundaries off fuller balls to keep the scoreboard ticking for England.

Phil Salt survived an lbw and flicked Haris Rauf for four, but struggled to time the ball well. Two balls later, Rauf had the last laugh as Salt was cramped on the pull and gave a simple catch to mid-wicket.

Naseem then beat Buttler five times in the fifth over, though he conceded five wides and was scooped by the right-hander for a six over fine leg. But in the sixth over, Rauf found just a little bit of nip away and found the outside edge of Buttler caught behind by the keeper.

Stokes and Harry Brook did the rebuilding job for England with a 39-run stand for the fourth wicket. The duo relied on strike rotation while hitting boundaries in between — Brook flicked past mid-on off Rauf while Stokes under-edged a reverse sweep off Shadab and drove Mohammad Wasim Jr. through extra cover.

But Brook struggled badly for timing and holed out to wide long-off off Shadab in the 13th over. In the next over, Stokes escaped a run-out when a direct hit from mid-on missed the stumps by a whisker.

As Shaheen left the field after bowling just one ball due to knee issues, Stokes took advantage of it by hitting a four wide of cover and lofted just over long-off for six off part-time offie Iftikhar Ahmed.

Moeen Ali continued the tempo by taking back-to-back fours off Wasim Jr. on the first two balls of the 17th over — a smack over the cover was followed by a pull through the gap at square leg. Ali then ended the over with a top-edge on a hard swipe over the keeper’s head.

Though Ali was clean bowled by a brilliant yorker from Wasim Jr in the 19th over, Stokes reached his fifty in 47 balls with a controlled drive on a full toss past deep cover. He fittingly finished off the chase with a single through the on-side to win England the final with an over to spare.

Brief scores: Pakistan 137/8 in 20 overs (Shan Masood 38, Babar Azam 32; Sam Curran 3/12, Adil Rashid 2/22) lost to England 138/5 in 19 overs (Ben Stokes 52 not out, Jos Buttler 26; Haris Rauf 2/23, Shaheen Shah Afridi 1/13) by five wickets

IANS

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