Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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Wood makes stunning comeback to help England secure T20 win over Pakistan

Mark Wood nearly hit 97mph in his first appearance for six months as England returned to form to beat Pakistan in Karachi.

Twenty-four hours after a 10-wicket loss in Karachi, England regained a 2-1 lead in the seven-game T20 series as they waltzed to victory by 63 runs.

Defending a formidable 221-3 tally, Wood turned up the heat by hitting some of the fastest speeds ever by an England bowler and collecting 3-25 from four spirited overs.

It was hard to believe the 32-year-old hadn’t played competitive cricket since suffering a serious elbow injury in March and the only signs of discomfort were from opposing batters, who couldn’t do against its slow pace.

The foundations were laid earlier by the career best efforts of two mid-order rookies, Harry Brook smashing 81 on 35 balls and Ben Duckett taking 70 no on 42. But Wood is more likely than either another of those players to be a first-choice selection at next month’s World Cup, making him the star.

The first exchanges belonged to debutant Will Jacks, who hit 40 on 22 balls after being drafted to replace rested Alex Hales.

The 23-year-old missed out on winning the Surrey County Championship title on Thursday but didn’t look like a man yearning to return home, announcing himself on the big stage with an action-packed contribution at the top .

With Phil Salt falling early, he took responsibility, throwing a pair of early bounds into the middle of the deep wicket and unloading powerful drives on the floor. With growing confidence, he strode away and pounded Shahnawaz Dahani disdainfully over the cover.

His strike helped England go 57-1 on the power play, but Usman Qadir blocked things with a double strike as Dawid Malan and Jacks both picked up the leg side sweeper.

Duckett had already used three limits when Brook joined him at 82-3 and they came together brilliantly. Brook crushed Qadir for two four-ball sixes, reaching the second while hanging outside but still sending it all the way.

While Brook showed his power and timing, Duckett built on his reputation as an incorrigible sweeper and collected a series of fours that were both predictable but impossible to prevent.

Brook won the run at fifty with a big pass from Dahani, netting two accurate shots behind the point either side of another big shot to the middle of the wicket. He had taken only 24 bullets to reach the marker, six faster than Duckett, who joined him moments later.

They pumped out 43 of the last three overs, including an outstanding ramp over the shoulder from Brook, to assume complete control.

Pakistan’s hopes rested on their front two, fresh off an unbroken 203-man position the day before, but Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan both came down to earth, sent off for eight apiece.

Wood needed four accurate balls to make up for lost time, Babar unable to control a quick delivery as he threw a head-high hold at the third man. Reece Topley also caused a stir, knocking over the stump of Rizwan’s leg as he looked to make room.

Wood’s second over had even more heat, and Haider Ali resented none of it, beating a square-legged throat ball in what was little more than self-preservation. By the time Iftikhar Ahmed fell on an ugly shot from Sam Curran, the score was 28-4 and the competition was effectively over.

Shan Masood enjoyed personal success, shooting an unentertaining 66, but Wood made short work of Haris Rauf on his return and the game barely existed as a contest for the majority of the answer.

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