Ben Stokes fires England as they win T20 World Cup with victory over Pakistan

Stokes was once again the man for the big occasion.
Ben Stokes fires England as they win T20 World Cup with victory over Pakistan

By David Charlesworth, PA, Melbourne

Ben Stokes once again delivered under the fiercest of pressure situations as England were crowned T20 World Cup champions after a nail-biting five-wicket win over Pakistan at the MCG.

On a bowler-friendly pitch, Stokes anchored a chase of 138 with an over to spare with 52 not out from 49 balls as England became the first men’s side to hold ODI and T20 World Cups simultaneously.

England’s 2019 50-over World Cup hero had moments of fortune and near misses en route to his first T20 fifty in front of an 80,462-crowd, overwhelmingly made up of spellbound and lively Pakistan fans.

But Stokes banished memories of the 2016 final in stunning fashion, retaining his composure despite the tricky surface and a vaunted Pakistan attack in a match simulcast by Sky and Channel 4 back in the UK.

Sam Curran took three for 12 while there were two wickets apiece for Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan to restrict Pakistan to 137 for eight – and their hopes of keeping England under that were dealt a blow by an injury to Shaheen Shah Afridi while taking the catch that dismissed Harry Brook.

After treatment on his knee, Afridi pulled up after one ball of his third over, with Pakistan turning to Iftikhar Ahmed, who was driven for four then six by Stokes, swinging the pendulum towards England.

The winning moment came when Stokes, who has made unbeaten fifties in triumphant ODI and T20 World Cup finals, pulled Mohammad Wasim for a single before his team-mates rushed on to the field in celebration.

Stokes saw England home
Stokes saw England home (PA)

In the showpiece six years ago, Stokes was clattered for four successive sixes in the final over as the West Indies pipped England to the title but the all-rounder can now put that Mumbai night to bed.

While an unbroken 170-run stand between Jos Buttler and Alex Hales carried England into the final after a 10-wicket victory over India, this was a different experience as nerves were on show from each side.

The challenge facing England was underlined in the first over when Shaheen hooped one back into Hales, with the ball deflecting off the pads and brushing the top of middle stump.

Buttler punished Naseem Shah for overpitching with two driven fours to temporarily settle nerves but Phil Salt made a streaky 10 in his only tournament innings before miscuing a pull to midwicket.

The forecast rain arrived without interrupting the on-field action as Naseem astonishingly beat Buttler’s outside edge five times in a single over and yet still conceded 11 after five wides and an audacious scooped six.

But the England captain’s luck ran out when he fiddled at Haris Rauf and grazed through to Mohammad Rizwan.

At 49 for three after six overs, England had their noses in front and a couple of running mix-ups between Stokes and Brook went unpunished, with the pair looking ill-at-ease at the crease.

Naseem’s misfortune continued as he repeatedly went past Stokes’ outside edge and although Shadab Khan finished his excellent four-over spell, in which he conceded just 20, with a wicket to remove Brook, Afridi was clearly discomforted after sliding to take the catch.

There were cheers when he came back on but he was clearly in pain when brought back, with England needing 41 from 30 balls. Stokes capitalised when Iftikhar was brought on and Moeen Ali thrashed Wasim for three fours in an over to bring the equation down to 12 off the last three overs.

Moeen was castled by Wasim for 19 off 12 balls but Stokes went to a vital fifty with his fifth four before hitting the winning runs.

His night started an overstep then a wide, with Mohammad Rizwan unable to make contact from the free hit, although Chris Woakes and Curran were tidy in their opening overs.

Woakes’ slower balls had modest success as he was slog swept for six in a first sign of Pakistan aggression by Rizwan, whose inside edged a drive into his stumps as Curran made the breakthrough.

England’s Adil Rashid was very impressive
England’s Adil Rashid was very impressive (PA)

Babar Azam made up for a lack of boundaries by finding the gaps and taking the singles and twos but he lost Mohammad Haris, who stepped out of his crease and slashed Rashid’s first ball straight to Stokes.

Babar then failed to read Rashid’s googly which gripped and turned, caught the splice and ballooned back to the leg-spinner, who became only the fourth bowler to record a wicket maiden in a T20 World Cup final.

Stokes’ extra seam and bounce grazed Iftikhar’s edge and although he had an expensive final over, Curran persuaded Shan Masood to try to clear the longer square boundary, only finding deep midwicket.

Mohammad Nawaz was out after trying a similar shot as Curran conceded seven in the 17th and 19th overs.

Chris Jordan was also impressive at the death and while Brook spilled Mohammad Wasim, England still kept Pakistan quiet at the back end.

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