Harry Brook smashes unbeaten 81 before fast bowler Mark Wood wreaks havoc – and equals fastest delivery ever – as England beat Pakistan by 63 runs to take 2-1 lead in the T20 series
Harry Brook played an astonishing breakthrough international innings and Mark Wood equalled the fastest delivery ever recorded by an England bowler to turn Karachi’s cauldron of noise into a library last night.
Brook’s audacious, unbeaten 81 off just 35 deliveries helped raise the bar from 24 hours earlier when Pakistan completed an historic first 10-wicket chase of a 200-run target in Twenty20 internationals.
And with 221 on the board this time, Wood sensationally unleashed the new-ball ferocity England have so badly lacked during his six-month elbow injury lay-off.
The 32-year-old wreaked havoc in an opening two-over salvo, matching the 97-mile-per-hour ball that Steve Harmison sent down to dismiss Glenn McGrath in the Perth Ashes Test of 2006-07 during the second of the two and instigating a spell of four wickets for 11 runs that drowned out the noise of Thursday.
Any doubts about a result that puts England 2-1 up with four to play were removed before the end of the powerplay, which Pakistan exited at 29 for four.
Fresh from his unbeaten 110, Babar witnessed a Wood bouncer flash past his nose and then guided the next delivery straight to third man. Haider Ali was uncomfortably late on another short ball and was held at square leg.
In between, Mohammad Rizwan was castled by Reece Topley, another of England’s three returnees, and when Sam Curran banged one during his first over it triggered another fatal crossbar miscue, this time from Iftikhar Ahmed.
Wood returned to bag the wicket of Haris Rauf at the death and finish with figures of 4-0-25-3.
The domination of ball during Pakistan’s latest mammoth pursuit was incongruous with what preceded it.
There was simply no bowling at Brook in this imperious touch: always one step ahead, he read the field and then toyed with it, threading the ball through gaps, over fielders’ heads and on five occasions over the boundary rope on the full.
His outlandish stroke play came during an unbroken partnership of 139 from just 72 balls with Ben Duckett, the other in-form batter on the tour. On only four previous occasions had England finished with more than the 221 for three they piled up here.
That they came together in the ninth over was fortunate in itself: Dawid Malan and debutant Will Jacks both departed in disbelief that they had hauled gimme balls to deep midwicket off Pakistan leg-spinner Usman Qadir.
Surrey’s Jacks proved more than an ample duty for Alex Hales at the top of the order as England began sharing out game time amongst the 20-man touring party, adopting the no-fear approach encouraged in the early stages of innings to loft and thrash into gaps during a 22-ball 40.
Brook took things to another level, however. Earlier this year, he showed his mastery of these conditions with the Pakistan Super League’s second fastest hundred and he showed similar intent when he lofted Qadir for the first six of the innings.
He did not show discrimination between spin and pace, either, highlighting his adaptability by twice hooking over the rope at long leg and also striking straight after giving himself room.
The only time the 23-year-old Yorkshireman did not appear to put the ball exactly where he wanted to came when he inadvertently bobbled one from Haris Rauf off his own body and into the grille of his helmet.
Duckett played with equal precision in another fine display of sweeping against the Pakistani spinners, and although his own half-century came up seven balls slower than that of the 24 Brook required, the impetus was such that Pakistan were tasked with surpassing their highest previous chase of 208.
Something that England’s up-front work in the field deemed fanciful. The tourists had intended to hold Wood back until the Lahore leg of this trip but recalled him five days ahead of schedule to inject the pace into their attack so badly lacking while trying to dislodge Babar and Rizwan in game two.
The inclusion of a left-armer used to provide variations to bowling attacks but this year England have used them as a staple in Twenty20 assignments, and although they got away with playing a trio in the opening match of the series, David Willey, Sam Curran and Luke Wood proved too samey in the second, with their similar trajectories and speeds.
And on what was a perfect night for English cricket, it was their two players of difference that made a difference.