9th over: Pakistan 63-3 (Babar 37, Iftikhar 0) Those short balls are dangerous on a pitch that looks a bit two-paced.
A useful wicket for England. Haider Ali fetches a short ball from Sam Curran towards cow corner, where Duckett runs round the boundary to take a good catch.
8th over: Pakistan 58-2 (Babar 33, Haider 17) Adil Rashid comes into the attack, or rather the defence. Haider Ali charges the fourth ball, doesn’t get close to the pitch, but wipes it over wide long on regardless. Ten from the over.
7th over: Pakistan 48-2 (Babar 31, Haider 9) The new bowler Sam Curran is pulled thrillingly through square leg for four by Babar. Whatever the format, he is the most charming batter to watch. And after scoring seven from his first 10 balls today, he has
hit stroked 24 from the last 13.
6th over: Pakistan 40-2 (Babar 25, Haider 7) A run-out chance for England. Babar takes a quick single to mid-on and is short of his ground when Curran’s throw whistles past the stumps.
Haider helps a short ball from Gleeson round the corner for four, then pulls straight into the square-leg umpire Aleem Dar. Thankfully it hit him on the fleshy part of the thigh.
“Re: Brian Withington on Lord David of Gower (4th over),” begins Gareth Wilson, “at least we are spared KP saying something obvious then Saying. It. Again. Slower.”
5th over: Pakistan 32-2 (Babar 22, Haider 2) It took a little while, but Babar has got his eye in. He back cuts Topley beautifully to the fence, his third boundary in four balls, and steals a single off the last ball to move to 22 from 16 balls.
4th over: Pakistan 26-2 (Babar 17, Haider 1) Babar gets his first boundary, flicking Willey delightfully through midwicket, and adds another with a pull behind square. That’s much more Babartypical.
“Afternoon Rob,” says Brian Withington. “Who could possibly tire of David Gower demonstrating the fine art of proof by repeated assertion? How we have missed his inspired commentary.”
Shan Masood goes for a duck. He missed a bread-and-butter work across the line at Willey and was given out LBW by Rashid Riaz. Shan reviewed, hoping it might have been high, but replays showed it was hitting the top of leg stump. Pakistan lose a wicket and a review.
3rd over: Pakistan 14-1 (Babar 6, Shan 0) Shan Masood is the new batter.
Mohammad Haris gets off the mark with a swagger, clouting the new bowler Richard Gleeson back over his head for six. But he falls later in the over, steering a short ball straight to Rashid at short third man. It was good bowling from Gleeson, who followed Haris as he backed away.
2nd over: Pakistan 5-0 (Babar 4, Haris 0) There was a soupcon of swing for Topley, so David Willey – always dangerous when the white ball moves in the air – is going to share the new ball. Babar mistimes a couple of attacking strokes, which suggests the pitch might not be the best, and there are just three runs from the over.
1st over: Pakistan 2-0 (Babar 1, Haris 0) Reece Topley starts the innings with a wide, but he soon finds his range and ends the over with five successive dot balls to the debutant Mohammad Haris. Haris looks a bit nervouis, as you’d expect, and misses a very ambitious reverse lap.
Here come the players. It’s a fresh pitch today, and there’s a new face – the 21-year-old debutant Mohammad Haris.
Both teams make two changes. Shahnawaz Dahani and the debutant Mohammad Haris replace Haris Rauf and Mohammad Rizwan, who are rested.
England bring in Reece Topley and Richard Gleeson for Mark Wood and Chris Woakes. Still no sign of Jos Buttler, though it sounds like it’s just a precaution.
Pakistan Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Haris (wk), Shan Masood, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Aamer Jamal, Shahnawaz Dahani, Mohammad Wasim.
England Salt (wk), Hales, Malan, Duckett, Brook, Ali (c), Curran, Willey, Rashid, Gleeson, Topley.
“We have to chase well and win the game,” says their captain Moeen Ali. Babar Azam says he would have made the same decision.
Our old friend Andy Bull has written some cracking stuff throughout this tour. Here he is on the series we would all love to see.
Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got till you’ve got it. Things we can’t foresee enrich our lives in ways we can’t imagine: true love, The Sopranos, memory foam. Who knew, for example, that once you reach a certain age, the hitherto repellent IKEA catalogue contains nothing but dopamine? And who had any idea that a seven-match white-ball series, which sounds like a uniquely sadistic form of overkill, could be so goshdarn life-affirming?
In ODIs, England have been involved in some mind-numbing, spirit-crushing seven-match series. The list of results isn’t pretty: 1-6, 1-4*, 4-3, 1-6, 1-6, 2-5. Some of us are still in therapy over the 6-1 defeat in South Africa in 1995-96, which presaged a desperate World Cup campaign. But this, their first seven-match T20 series, has been an almost ceaseless joy on and off the field. Pakistan lead 3-2 after thrilling victories in the fourth and fifth games, and a win today would give them the series with a game to spare.
There’s a bigger picture – the World Cup starts on 16 October – but England could do without having their morale punctured by another defeat. While there are mitigating circumstances, their form has an end-of-an-era whiff about it. From 2019-21, England’s bilateral T20 series record was W7 D1 L1. If they lose today, their record for 2022 will be W0 D0 L4. The last time they lost four T20 series in a row was – pop quiz, hotshot – never.
The match starts at 3.30pm in London, 7.30pm in Karachi.
* Don’t you get wise with me, there was a tie and a no-result