England are T20 World Champions for the second time after beating Pakistan by five wickets in a tense final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia. In doing so, England have become the first men’s team to hold both white ball titles simultaneously.
Pakistan were put into bat and limited to 137-8 after 20 overs after an excellent effort from the English bowlers, in particular Sam Curran who took a boundary less 3-12 including the key wicket of Mohammed Rizwan who dragged a full ball onto his stumps. In reply England set off on a tense chase with approximately 80,000 people in attendance at the MCG and up against what was widely regarded as the tournament’s best bowling attack. They would get to 138-5 with an over to spare but it was far more competitive than the scorecard suggests.
On a day that threatened to be spoiled by rain, England’s match winner in the 50-over final three years ago, Ben Stokes once again played a pivotal role in this successful run chase. As wickets fell around him he anchored the innings with a score of 52* not out from 49 balls in the format’s biggest game, including hitting the winning runs and possibly exercising the demons of that final over in Kolkata 2016. His 48 run partnership with vice captain Moeen Ali calmed the English nerves that threatened to spill over at 88-4 in the thirteenth over with 50 runs still needed.
The game changing moment was an injury to superstar fast bowler and leader of Pakistan’s attack Shaheen Shah Afridi, jarring his knee as he slid forwards to take a catch to dismiss Harry Brook off Shadab Khan’s bowling and thus requiring treatment. He returned for his third over but had to go off after just one, leaving the remaining five to be completed by Iftikhar Ahmed with 41 needed off 30 balls. They would go for thirteen runs, slapped over cover for four and launched over Babar Azam for six to loosen the shackles. Moeen Ali would keep that tempo up, creaming the first two balls of the next over for boundaries, leaving the required run rate at less than a run a ball. Ali couldn’t see it through to the end as he was beautifully yorked by Mohammed Wasim but Stokes saw his side over the line with a slap through the covers for four and then a push to midwicket as a sea of red English shirts poured onto the field to celebrate the momentous achievement.
Sam Curran was awarded the player of the match award and the player of the tournament award for his 13 wickets across the tournament and his death bowling. Barbadian born Chris Jordan stayed in the side as Mark Wood was deemed not ready to play and he contributed 2-27 from his four overs and took two catches, continuing from his 3-43 display in the semi final against India in Adelaide. Phil Salt, who was raised in Barbados, retained his place in the side for the final as Dawid Malan’s replacement and did get a bat this time scoring 10 from nine balls. Both he and Jordan became world champions for the first time. England won their first T20 World Cup in 2010 by seven wickets at Kensington Oval, Barbados against old rivals Australia.
Pakistan 137-8 (Masood 38, Curran 3-12, Rashid 2-22, Jordan 2-27)
England 138-5 (Stokes 52*, Rauf 2-23)
England beat Pakistan by five wickets