Ben Stokes has led England to another World Cup victory with a match-winning half-century in a tense final against Pakistan.
After winning the toss and sending Pakistan in, England’s bowling attack applied a vice grip to Pakistan’s line-up in the second half of the innings, restricting it to just 8-137. Left-arm seamer Sam Curran was named the Player of the Match for his terrific figures of 3-12 off four overs.
In reply, England survived a major scare from Pakistan’s bowling attack to emerge five-wicket winners, with Stokes finishing unbeaten on 52 off 49 deliveries, his highest score in international T20 matches.
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England skipper Jos Buttler described Stokes as the “ultimate competitor” after his match-winning heroics.
“He’s got a hell of a lot of experience to bank on, as well, and he can take a lot on his shoulders,” Buttler said.
“At times you’re thinking it must be time for him to go and get us over the line, but he timed it perfectly.
“I thought that impetus he and Moeen Ali had at that phase of the game just took it away from Pakistan.”
Despite again guiding England home in a World Cup final, Stokes paid credit to the bowling unit for restricting Pakistan to an under-par total.
“In finals, especially chasing, you forget all the hard work before that,” he said.
“I thought the way we bowled for the whole 20 overs, Adil Rashid and Sam Curran, that’s what won us the game. That was a tricky wicket, one that you never felt you were in on. To restrct them to 137, the bowlers have to take a lot of credit for that.”
Stokes’ incredible poise under pressure left those watching in awe.
“Just a man for the final, for the big occasion,” said Bazid Khan in commentary as Stokes hit the winning runs off Mohammad Wasim with six balls to spare.
The title win is England’s first in the shortest format since claiming the 2010 T20 World Cup in the West Indies. England reached the final in 2016, but was beaten by the West Indies in heartbreaking fashion.
On that occasion, it was Stokes who bowled the final over in which West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite hit four sixes to win the title for his team.
Having won the ODI World Cup in 2019, where Stokes was colossal in the final, England is the first team to hold both the ODI and T20 World Cups at the same time.
It was a devastating loss for Pakistan, whose attack battled willfully to defend what was an under-par score.
Final heartbreak for Shaheen
Pakistan’s brilliant bowling attack looked on its way to defending the total when the match turned in the 16th over with strike bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi forced off the field with a leg injury.
Afridi hurt a knee while taking a catch in the outfield, but returned after being attended to by physios and attempted to bowl what was a crucial over, with England requiring 41 off 30 deliveries at the start of the over.
The left-armer limped through one delivery before being unable to continue due to the injury. Pakistan captain Babar Azam turned to part-time spinner Iftikhar Ahmed to complete the final five deliveries of the 16th over and England capitalised, hitting 13 runs to get ahead of the required rate.
In addition to being named the best player in the final, Curran was voted as the Player of the Tournament after picking up 13 wickets at an average of 11.38 and an economy rate of 6.52.
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