Phil Salt urges England to beat Pakistan emphatically as the series heads to the final

Phil Salt blew away Pakistan with an 88 not-out as England led their seven-game Twenty20 series to the final.

The Tourists needed a win to level the scores 3-3 and with two consecutive unsuccessful chases under their belts, the Tourists trundled to an eight-wicket win at the back of Salt’s brilliance.

Faced with a target of 170, Salt shot away in style to make a tricky target seem irrelevant. The Lancashire opener hit three sixes and 13 fours in a 41-ball stay, easily topping his previous high of 57 in the format.

The Tour is now coming to an end with everything at stake in Lahore on Sunday.

The first ball of England’s chase set the tone but could have gone either way, Salt beat Mohammad Nawaz to a four but only after getting dangerously close to the catcher at the back point.

A whip past the middle carried less risk for the same reward, but the scoring was just beginning. Salt and Alex Hales hit 22 from the second over, equalizing shot for shot with sixes and fours respectively against the shocked Shahnawaz Dahani.

Mohammad Wasim was called to stem the flow and sent another 17, including three back-to-back fours from Hales, who stayed behind and hit the short stuff, then drove with vigor as the length crept forward. England had 50 from the first three overs and had set a pace that dramatically reduced the rate required.

Shadab Khan temporarily halted the carnage as Hales (27) drove a top edge in search of another big hit but Salt could not be tamed. He pumped Nawaz into the ground four times within five deliveries, slamming the ropes three times and freeing them once.

There was no turning back for Salt, who sprinted to England’s third-fastest half-century in just 19 deliveries and then punished Aamer Jamal with two crisp moves. Dawid Malan played well for 26 but ran afoul of a low cultivator from Shadab.

Halfway through the chase, the result was a formality as only 41 more were needed. Ben Duckett hit a lofty 26 to end Salt’s hopes of a century but allowed his partner to claim the 33-ball winning streak.

Pakistan had previously booked 169 for six, built around Babar Azam’s 87 not out. The captain carried a heavy burden in the absence of his usual accomplice Mohammad Rizwan – officially rested despite his hot form – and lived up to expectations.

Babar was a class for the rest of his team, hitting three sixes and seven fours with his 59 balls as he gave the hosts a chance to push for an unassailable 4-2 lead.

Rizwan was a constant thorn in England’s side and without him, Pakistan’s power play got off to a bad start. The pressure built early as Reece Topley and David Willey both worked through cheap opening overs and early wickets quickly followed.

Rizwan’s replacement Mohammad Haris found the boots too big to fill and managed a clean shot for six before horribly misjudging his angles and leading Richard Gleeson straight to the short third man.

Shan Masood was close behind, caught in the crease as Willey hit his knee roll, letting Babar take the lead. The skipper responded by sending three of his next four balls to the limit and starting the innings at 40 for two by the end of the power play.

Babar had slipped back into his usual rhythm but needed support from the middle order. He managed scores of 47 and 48 with Haider Ali and Iftikhar Ahmed, but both partnerships stalled thanks to an enterprising performance from Sam Curran.

The all-rounder turned handy numbers from two for 26, pushing Pakistan with a selection of gently deceiving short balls and knives. Topley saw strong numbers destroyed by sending 19 in the last over, but with Salt in inspired form it was still a drop in the bucket. Phil Salt urges England to beat Pakistan emphatically as the series heads to the final

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