Sri Lanka claimed a first ever T20I series victory over India as they beat their depleted opponents by seven wickets in the third and final match.

India were undefeated in the previous four series between the nations, yet a COVID-19 outbreak – nine players were put into isolation following a positive test for Krunal Pandya – had further decimated their ranks, considering several regulars are absent with the Test squad in England.

They did win the toss for the decider but were only able to post 81-8 from 20 overs, their third lowest total in the shortest format.

Wanindu Hasaranga was the star for Sri Lanka with the ball, claiming figures of 4-9 from his four overs of leg-spin, and Dasun Shanaka claimed two wickets.

Sri Lanka had few issues chasing such a meagre target, despite a sluggish start to their reply. Avishka Fernando (12), Minod Bhanuka (18) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (6) were the batsmen dismissed, all to the impressive Rahul Chahar (3-15).

Dhananjaya de Silva and Hasaranga made sure victory was secured with plenty of time to spare, finishing up on 23 and 14 not out respectively as the game finished midway through the 15th over following a wide bowled by Varun Chakravarthy.


Short of options, lacking in runs

India's squad suffered a further blow with Navdeep Saini ruled out of the winner-takes-all clash through injury. Sandeep Warrier, who had initially made the trip as a net bowler, was handed a debut, but the pace bowler had little to work with after the tourists' top order collapsed.

Captain Shikhar Dhawan fell for a first-ball duck as India slumped to 25-4 after 30 deliveries. Kuldeep Yadav finished up as the top scorer with 23 not out, one of just three players to reach double figures.

Happy birthday, Hasaranga! 

Hasaranga had already moved up to second in the T20I bowling rankings prior to producing career-best figures on Thursday. His dazzling spell included 15 dot balls, while he unsurprisingly did not concede a boundary. India did not manage to hit one six, either.

The birthday boy celebrated turning 24 in style, helping Sri Lanka win successive T20 games for the first time since October 2019 in the process, while India had not suffered back-to-back losses in the 20-over format since July 2017.

India went down by four wickets to Sri Lanka in Colombo on Wednesday, levelling their Twenty20 International series after losing a number of big names to a coronavirus outbreak.

The tourists will have to bounce back quickly ahead of Thursday's decider having come up just short of a victory that would have secured a fourth successive bilateral series success against Sri Lanka in this format.

Krunal Pandya's positive COVID-19 test prompted the postponement of this match on Tuesday and ruled out eight players as close contacts.

That meant there were four debutants in the India XI, with Ruturaj Gaikwad opening in a depleted batting line-up and Devdutt Padikkal coming in at number three, and Sri Lanka capitalised.

India made a promising start, but were restricted to 132-5 after being asked to bat first, captain Shikhar Dhawan top scoring with 40.

Although Minod Bhanuka (36) departed quickly after he was dropped by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sri Lanka remained within reach heading into the closing stages of their chase.

A brief late rain delay dragged out the drama and Sri Lanka – led by Dhananjaya de Silva (40 not out) – then immediately profited from a 12-run 19th over that brought them within eight, a target achieved with two balls to spare.

HERO TO ZERO

This should have been a night to remember for Bhuvneshwar, whose unbeaten career-high 13 in India's innings – batting up the order at six – was followed by his 50th wicket in the format. He is the fourth Indian bowler to this mark.

But, as well as that awful drop, he was the man running in for the 19th over, with Sri Lanka in complete control after Chamika Karunaratne hit a full toss for six.

TOUGH GROUNDING

For a time, it had appeared as though Bhuvneshwar was setting an example for Chetan Sakariya, the debutant seamer who struggled from the outset. Ultimately, they both contributed to India's defeat.

Starting alongside Bhuvneshwar in the attack, there were nine runs off Sakariya's first over and 10 off the second. A first wicket came in the third as Ramesh Mendis paid for his aggressive approach, but that over still brought eight and the miserable fourth saw Sri Lanka seal victory. Sakariya went for 34 off 3.4 overs.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets as India eased to a 38-run win over Sri Lanka in the first T20 international on Sunday.

India posted 164-5 after they were asked to bat first in Colombo, with skipper Shikhar Dhawan's 46 and a 34-ball 50 from Suryakumar Yadav providing the bulk of the runs.

Dushmantha Chameera (2-24) and Wanindu Hasaranga (2-28) did the damage for Sri Lanka, but the majority of the home side's batsmen failed to fire after the interval.

Avishka Fernando (26) and Charith Asalanka (44) briefly gave Sri Lanka some hope, but Kumar (4-22) and Deepak Chahar (2-24) got the job done as the hosts were bowled out for 126 with nine balls to spare.

Sri Lanka were outclassed in their recent T20I series in England, which ended in a 3-0 loss, but even on home soil Mickey Arthur's side lack the batting firepower and they have now won just once in their previous 14 completed fixtures.

The second and third Twenty20 internationals in Colombo, both also at the R. Premadasa Stadium, take place on Tuesday and Thursday as both sides continue their preparations for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Kumar closes in on milestone

India seamer Kumar was cool during the business end of the match as he took three of the final four wickets to fall. He needs just one wicket to reach 50 in T20I action for India and become the fourth player to achieve this feat for the country.

Shanaka must deliver more

Sri Lanka lost their final six wickets for less than 15 runs and needed more from T20 captain Dasun Shanaka, who made a tame 14-ball 16. Shanaka is normally an aggressive middle-order batsman but his modest innings included just one four before he was stumped off the bowling of debutant Varun Chakravarthy.

The Indian Premier League will resume with a showdown between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians in Dubai on September 19.

Four months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the season will finally resume in the United Arab Emirates.

There are 31 matches still to be contested over the space of 27 days, 13 taking place in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi.

The first qualifier of the post-season will be played in Dubai on October 10, with the eliminator and second qualifier taking place in Sharjah on October 11 and 13 respectively.

Dubai will stage the final on October 15, according to the fixture programme released by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

The campaign will restart with Delhi Capitals at the top of the table with 12 points from eight matches.

Aaron Finch is heading home from Australia's tour of the Caribbean in a bid to be fit for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Australia captain Finch sustained a knee injury during the final game of the T20 series with the West Indies in Saint Lucia – the tourists suffering a 4-1 defeat.

The 34-year-old, who suffered a cartilage problem earlier in the series, has subsequently missed the opening two one-day internationals between the nations at the Kensington Oval.

After the final ODI on Monday, Justin Langer's side travel to Bangladesh for another five-game T20 series as they step up preparations for the World Cup in October.

Finch, who scored a T20I record of 172 runs against Zimbabwe in July 2018, is likely to undergo surgery on his right knee upon returning to Melbourne.

And although frustrated to be departing the tour, the skipper is confident it will increase his chances of leading Australia out in three months' time. 

“I’m extremely disappointed to be heading home,” he said.

“This was considered the best course of action rather than heading to Bangladesh, not being able to play and losing that recovery time.

“I will have surgery if required and start the recovery process ahead of the World Cup."

Taking place in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, the T20 World Cup will run from October 17 to November 14.

Australia have been drawn alongside the Windies in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage, as well as England and South Africa.

Runners-up to England in 2010, Australia will be seeking a first triumph in the event, which they are also set to host next year.

Captain Temba Bavuma led the way with the bat as South Africa wrapped up a T20I series sweep against Ireland thanks to a 49-run victory in the third and final game.

The Proteas made it four wins on the spin in the shortest format – their best run since a five-match span between October 2018 and February 2019 – thanks to a dominant display at Stormont, despite making five changes to the team.

Bavuma struck his maiden T20I half-century, making 72 from 51 deliveries while opening the batting as South Africa posted an imposing total of 189-2.

Reeza Hendricks made 69 at the top of the order, helping put on 127 for the first wicket with his skipper. Ireland eventually broke the stand in the 16th over, though David Miller came out at three to produce a stunning late attack, blitzing 36 from just 17 deliveries.

The home team lost Kevin O'Brien to the ninth ball of their reply, setting the tone for wickets to fall at regular intervals. Andy Balbirnie top-scored with 27 before becoming one of three batsmen to be dismissed in the space of nine runs, ending any hope of an Irish victory as they slipped to 78-5.

George Linde, Lizaad Williams and Wiaan Mulder all claimed two wickets apiece but Ireland at least avoided being bowled out inside the distance, finishing up on 140-9.


Miller makes hay on tour

A late cameo in the third game completed an impressive series for Miller. The left-handed batsman finished up with 139 runs having been dismissed just once.

His strike-rate of 169.51 runs per 100 deliveries was the best for any South African who faced a minimum of 10 balls, aided by hitting 11 fours and six sixes.

Irish made to wait

Ireland's winless run in T20I action continues. It is now seven without success, with this result extending their longest drought in the format.

Even facing a much-changed line-up minus both Quinton de Kock and Tabraiz Shamsi, two pivotal players for the Proteas, they were well beaten having been far more competitive in the preceding 50-over fixtures between the nations.

Sri Lanka will be hoping a win in 50-over cricket can trigger a white-ball resurgence as they prepare to take on India in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday in Colombo.

Half-centuries from Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the third and final ODI between the nations on Friday, just their second win in 11 outings.

They have struggled in T20 action too, winning just once in their previous 13 completed fixtures. Home advantage should help, yet they have not triumphed at the R. Premadasa Stadium – the venue for all three of the upcoming fixtures against India – in the shortest format since August 2018.

Runs were hard to come by on the recent tour of England, including being bowled out for 91 in the final match as the hosts completed an emphatic 3-0 sweep at the Ageas Bowl.

Sri Lanka at least avoided that fate against India in one-day action, aided by a turning track on Friday that allowed their spinners to trigger a batting collapse – the tourists lost their final seven wickets for just 68 runs following a rain delay.

They could also be boosted by the return of Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the final ODI due to an injury concern.

India, meanwhile, remain without a number of their star names, so these games provide crucial opportunities for fringe players as they look to impress, particularly as this is a World Cup year.

Pushing the boundaries

Sri Lanka have hit a boundary once every 7.7 balls faced in the powerplay overs since the beginning of 2020 in T20I action, the worst rate for any team in that period. 

India have the third-slowest rate, taking 5.6 balls for every boundary. Captain Shikhar Dhawan will hope to help lower that number as he continues to lead the team, while Prithvi Shaw could get the chance to stake his claim for a regular top-order spot.

Positive spin can help India

Varun Chakravarthy could finally be handed his international debut in the series. India appeared keen to pick the mystery spinner against England in the T20I series on home soil earlier this year, yet concerns over his level of fitness ruled him out of contention.

The 29-year-old is a compelling option, though. He has taken 25 wickets in 21 matches in the Indian Premier League, 17 of which came in a 2020 campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders that saw him finish with an economy rate of 6.84 runs per over.

Key series facts

– India are unbeaten against Sri Lanka in multi-game bilateral T20I series (W3 D1). India have beaten Sri Lanka in each of the past three such series, the most recent meeting being in January 2020.

– Sri Lanka have one win from their past 11 completed T20I matches against India (L10). The solitary triumph was achieved in March 2018 when the Lions beat the Men in Blue by five wickets at the very same venue this match is being played.

– Since the beginning of 2020, only 43 per cent of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in men's T20I matches have come via boundaries, the lowest rate for any team in that period.

– Dasun Shanaka has a batting dot ball rate of 48 per cent in T20I matches since the beginning of 2020. Only two players have a higher rate than the Sri Lankan (Chris Gayle at 53 per cent and Andre Fletcher at 51 per cent, minimum 100 balls faced).

– Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs five wickets to reach 50 in T20I action for India. He will become the fourth player to achieve this feat for his country, with his career-best figures seeing him take 5-24 against South Africa in 2018.

England snuck to a nerve-jangling three-wicket win over Pakistan with two balls left to clinch a high-quality T20I series 2-1 at Old Trafford.

As was the case in the host's series-levelling victory at Headingley on Sunday, sweltering conditions and a dry surface played into the hands of the spinners, with Adil Rashid (4-35) again the England attack.

Moeen Ali returned a miserly 1-19 from his four overs as the England seamers went wicketless and Mohammad Rizwan carried his bat for a 57-ball 76 within 154-6.

Jason Roy went six, four and out in Leeds but produced something more substantial here, with 12 fours and a six before perishing on the slog sweep at Usman Qadir for 64 off 36 deliveries.

Jos Buttler (21) and Jonny Bairstow (five) also skewed slow bowling skywards and Eoin Morgan (21) joined an out-of-sorts Dawid Malan with the score 112-4 after 15 overs, Moeen having been cleaned up by Mohammad Hafeez (3-28).

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam went back to pace in a pivotal 18th over and Morgan flogged him for a pair of sixes, although Hasan Ali had the last laugh, having the England captain caught at mid-on with four balls remaining.

Malan's dogged 31 had been ended by Hafeez and Liam Livingstone had gone six and out by that stage, meaning a pair of scampered twos from all-rounder Chris Jordan were required to finish the job.

 

Tabraiz Shamsi's 4-27 ensured a routine 33-run win for South Africa over Ireland to secure a 1-0 series lead in the first bilateral men's T20I between the two sides in Malahide on Monday.

Quinton de Kock's 20 off nine balls threatened a promising start but came to an end as he found Paul Stirling's hands off the bowling of Mark Adair and that laid the foundations for a stuttering first-innings performance from the Proteas.

The visitors lost wickets at regular intervals, with Rassie van der Dussen (25 off 18), Aiden Markram (39 off 30) and David Miller (28 off 21) all showing incentive before failing to capitalise as South Africa reached 165-7, a touch above the average first-innings score of 152 in Malahide.

Simi Singh (2-19), Josh Little (2-27) and Adair (3-39) were the pick of the Ireland bowlers despite the latter being bludgeoned for four consecutive fours by Kagiso Rabada in the 20th over, which leaked 17 runs.

Stirling hoisted George Linde's first ball of Ireland's reply for six but that did not prove a sign of things to come given he was immediately bowled around his legs by the following delivery.

Captain Andy Balbirnie's 22 off 16 balls offered minor resistance as he watched his side struggle to 38-4 at the end of the six-over powerplay, courtesy of two wickets for Lungi Ngidi's wickets and one a piece for Linde and Rabada.

Linde and the world's number-one ranked T20I bowler Shamsi then rolled through the hosts' batting line-up to take 2-26 and 4-27 from their respective allocations and restrict Ireland to 132-9, with Harry Tector's 36 off 34 balls and Barry McCarthy's lower-order cameo of 30 off 25 balls offering the smallest of boosts for Ireland's poor batting showing.

Spin it to win it

Singh's maiden ODI hundred proved in vain in the third ODI defeat for Ireland but he proved his worth with the ball in Malahide, producing an economical four-over spell that saw him go for just one boundary.

Linde enjoyed similar spinning success, though, it was Shamsi who stole the show once again for the Proteas.

The left-arm leg-spinner is the most economical bowler in T20I cricket since the start of 2020 and, barring a trio of wides and two avoidable boundaries, Shamsi displayed his quality as he frequently spun the Ireland batsmen into a tangle.

 

O'Brien's ominous struggles

After playing five internationals and scoring just 27 runs, including a duck and three single-score returns, in 2021 heading into this match, Kevin O'Brien fell for another first-ball dismissal as he was caught and bowled by Rabada.

Turning out for Leinster Lightning in Ireland's inter-provincial T20 tournament, O'Brien has endured a lean domestic spell, too, managing a meagre 47 runs in six matches with a top score of 16.

O'Brien, scorer of Ireland's only hundred in the shortest limited-overs format, will be desperate to find form before the T20 World Cup gets underway in October.

Head coach Mark Boucher will hope to rouse his South Africa side for this week's T20I series against Ireland, conceding a lengthy limited stint away from home has taken its toll.

The Proteas diced with humiliation in the ODI rubber, as Ireland beat them in the 50-over format for the first time before centuries from Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock secured a 70-run win in the third match to snatch a 1-1 series draw.

South Africa moved from one bio-secure bubble to another, following their 3-2 T20I victory in the West Indies with the trip to Ireland, and those obligations have taken place amid a slew of awful news from back home.

A third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped South Africa, while Boucher's players wore black armbands for the third ODI to show solidarity with those affected by mounting scenes of violence.

"We weren't there the other day," Boucher said of the 43-run defeat to Ireland, as quoted by ESPNCricinfo. "Our awareness was down; our intensity was down.

"We looked at quite a few things without making excuses. We had a long chat after the game and we said, 'Guys we are in a position where we can't afford to make excuses. You are playing for your country and you have to be up every game'."

South Africa only have these games – Monday's match at Malahide before back-to-back games in Belfast - and three more versus Sri Lanka before the T20 World Cup gets underway in Oman in October, not an ideal situation given a devilish Group 1 draw alongside England, Australia and West Indies.

However, if Boucher's players were to complain about being under-cooked, they would have few grounds for complaint alongside Ireland.

Andy Balbirnie's side have not played a T20I since last March, with proposed series against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan falling foul of the pandemic.

Five matches against Zimbabwe follow this series before Ireland enter the Group A qualifier section alongside Sri Lanka, Namibia and the Netherlands at the T20 World Cup, from which two teams progress.

Shamsi looking to consolidate number one status

Irrespective of how ideal or otherwise their preparations have been, South Africa have their T20 World Cup trump card in Tabraiz Shamsi. The left-arm wrist spinner is ranked as the number one bowler in the world in the shortest international format and his economy rate of 6.5 since the beginning of 2020 is the best of anyone to have bowled in 10 or more innings.

 

O'Brien hoping to regain form alongside old ally Stirling

Ireland's main threat in the shortest format often comes from Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien at the top of the order. The veteran O'Brien is one of his country's finest ever players but he did not feature in the recent series against South Africa, having retired from ODIs. His final four knocks in the format were two, one, one and nought and the 37-year-old will hope to put that slump behind him.

Key Opta facts
- This will be the first bilateral men's T20I game between Ireland and South Africa. Ireland will be South Africa's 13th opposition in the format, while the Proteas will be their hosts' 24th.
- South Africa have dropped 29 chances since the beginning of 2020 in T20I cricket, the most of all Test playing nations during this time. Ireland have dropped the fewest (five), although they’ve also played the joint fewest such matches of any Test playing nation.
- Ireland have hit a boundary once every 3.7 balls in T20 powerplays since the beginning of 2020, the most frequent of any Test playing country in that time.
- De Kock has hit 31 sixes in T20Is since the start of 2020. Only Martin Guptill and Evin Lewis (both 34) have struck more.
- Balbirnie requires 55 more runs to become the fifth Irish batsman to score 1,000 runs in T20Is in just his 40th innings. He is set to surpass Stirling's Ireland best mark of reaching the landmark in 45 knocks.

England's three-pronged spin attack proved to be the difference as the hosts squared the T20I series against Pakistan at Headingley with a 45-run win.

Jos Buttler returned to skipper England as captain Eoin Morgan sat out and he top scored with a stunning 59 from 39 deliveries at the top of the order.

Moeen Ali (36) and Liam Livingstone (38) supplied explosive middle-order contributions, but England lost wickets frequently and there was a suspicion their 200 all out in 19.5 was a touch shy of what was required in perfect batting conditions in a sweltering Leeds.

But a Pakistan batting line-up that posted 232-6 in a 31-run win at Trent Bridge on Friday were effectively shackled by leg-spinners Adil Rashid (2-30) and Matt Parkinson (1-25) and Moeen's off-spin (2-32), with paceman Saqib Mahmood the pick of the attack thanks to 3-33 that began with the vital wicket of visiting captain Babar Azam (22).

Jason Roy set the tone for England's innings with a huge six and a four off slow left-armer Imad Wasim (2-37) before holing out within the first over.

Dawid Malan scratched around for one off five deliveries – top-edging a sweep off Imad to be caught by Azam Khan – although there were no such problems for Moeen in his blistering 16-ball stay, nor Livingstone, who followed up his incredible century in Nottingham by bludgeoning two fours and three sixes. One of those remarkably cleared the grandstand at the Football Ground End.

Buttler was in typically sublime touch through extra cover and only fell to Mohammad Hasnain (3-51) with a thunderous hit straight to Babar at mid-off.

Jonny Bairstow, Tom Curran and Chris Jordan came and went without being able to produce anything of similar substance and the sense England had been slightly wasteful was heightened as Babar and Mohammad Rizwan (37) added 50 for the first wicket.

Babar skewed a cross-seam delivery from Mahmood to a diving Malan and, as Rashid and Parkinson got into their work, Pakistan were unable to regain their momentum.

A fine return catch from Rashid accounted for Rizwan, while Moeen had Mohammad Hafeez caught behind for 10 and bowled Fakhar Zaman with a beauty to scoop the player of the match award.

Evin Lewis blasted nine sixes and the West Indies to a 16-run victory to complete a 4-1 T20I series triumph over Australia in St Lucia on Friday.

Batting at the top of the order, Lewis smashed 79 from 34 balls, including four fours and nine sixes to get the West Indies off to a flying start after captain Nicholas Pooran won the toss.

Lewis fell at 124-3 at the end of the 11th over, before Andrew Tye took three late wickets while Mitch Marsh impressed again with 12-2.

Pooran (31 from 18) and Chris Gayle (21 from seven) contributed as the West Indies amassed an imposing 199-8, although Australia started brightly in reply led by Marsh.

Marsh came to the crease after opener Josh Philippe fell for one, hitting five fours and one six, before falling off Andre Russell's first ball for 30 from 15 deliveries.

A visibly limping Aaron Finch was spectacularly caught by Fabian Allen with a diving left-hand effort for 34 from 23 off the impressive Hayden Walsh who took the most wickets in the series.

Wickets continued to fall with regularity as Andre Russell finished with a personal T20I best 43-3.

LEWIS PUSHES WORLD CUP CASE

Lewis was dropped after a duck in the opening T20I, before returning with 31 in Wednesday's dead rubber.

But the 29-year-old Trinidadian showcased his ability with a stunning knock on Friday setting the tone for the hosts.

The left-hander is one of the West Indies' players vying for a spot in their final T20 World Cup squad and did his hopes no harm, in a side missing several key players including Kieron Pollard.

Lewis said post-game: "I basically stayed still and watched the ball on to the bat. It's always good to score runs and contribute to the team to get the victory."

The Trinidadian's only two T20I centuries both came in 2017. He added: "I've been working hard from 2017 to now. Obviously, I want to keep scoring runs and cashing in at all times."

MARSH PROVES SHINING LIGHT

Australia lost the series 4-1 with Marsh their shining light from the five-game T20I series, producing another display of his quality in the shortest format on Friday.

Marsh took 12-2 from two overs and crunched 30 from 15, finishing the series with 219 runs at 43.8 with a strike rate above 150.

The big all-rounder also hit 10 sixes throughout the series, double the next best Australian, while he also hit a team-high 20 fours.

Marsh also chipped with the ball, taking a team-high eight wickets, including 24-3.

Finch said: "I think Mitch Marsh stood out with his first opportunity at number three consistently and the role that he did with the ball."

Pakistan posted a record total before staving off a historic Liam Livingstone onslaught as they won a high-scoring opener in the T20I series against England.

Captain Babar Azam led the way with 85 while opening partner Mohammad Rizwan contributed 63 to help Pakistan – swept 3-0 in the recent one-dayers when facing makeshift opponents – reach an imposing 232-6 in Nottingham.

An innings that struggled for early momentum would finish with a flurry of boundaries, including 152 runs coming from the final 10 overs.

England, who had seen returning skipper Eoin Morgan win the toss and opt to bowl first, lost wickets early and often in the powerplay overs to hamper their reply.

Livingstone, however, kept his team in the race, hitting a maiden international century in stunning fashion. He reached the milestone from a mere 42 balls, making it the fastest ton for England in the shortest format.

Yet with his side's hopes resting firmly on his shoulders, the right-hander fell immediately after reaching three figures with a ninth six, caught in the deep for 103 off the bowling of Shadab Khan when trying to repeat the trick.

The innings finished up at 201, Shaheen Shah Afridi (3-30) taking the final wicket with four balls to spare as Pakistan triumphed by 31 runs.

Amid the carnage in just the third T20I England have played at Trent Bridge, Mohammad Hasnain returned impressive figures of 1-28 from four overs. Shadab was far more expensive, going for 52 runs during his allocation, but he did crucially claim three wickets.


Openers lay the platform

Babar and Rizwan put on 150 despite getting off to a sedate start. Indeed, Pakistan failed to register a six in the first half of their innings yet finished up hitting 12 maximums, England's bowlers unable to stem the sudden flow of runs.

Fakhar Zaman (26) and Mohammad Hafeez (24) hit three apiece during late cameos, while debutant Azam Khan smacked a four from his first ball in international cricket during the final over.

Livingstone makes expedition into record books

Coming in at number five with his team 48-3, Livingstone set about the Pakistan bowlers instantly in the face of a tall order. He reached his half-century from 17 balls – England's previous record for that landmark had been 21 deliveries – and just kept on going, despite receiving limited support.

Jason Roy had made 32 in a hurry at the top of the order, but this was a one-man show for a team welcoming back several regulars following a coronavirus outbreak that had stopped them being involved in the one-dayers.

England will be aiming to continue their fine T20I form on home soil when they take on Pakistan in a three-match series, starting on Friday in Nottingham.

Fresh off a 3-0 sweep in the ODI games against the same opponents, England switch to a format in which they have triumphed in five of their past six outings in their own back yard.

Indeed, they finished a 2020 season hampered by the coronavirus pandemic with three victories on the spin – another at Trent Bridge in the opener against Pakistan will match their longest winning run at home in 20-over action, having previously enjoyed a four-match streak from September 2014 to July 2016.

However, Pakistan won the most recent meeting between the teams in September of last year, a five-run victory in Manchester making sure that series finished level at 1-1.

The tourists will hope a change to T20 action can help them turn around their fortunes on this trip, considering they were outplayed by a makeshift England 50-over team that had been hastily put together due to COVID-19 protocols.

Eoin Morgan was among the regulars forced to isolate following positive coronavirus cases within the group that had been on duty for the ODI games against Sri Lanka, but the captain is back to lead a more familiar squad this time around.

Saqib Mahmood is included again after impressing in the one-day arena, while Lewis Gregory is also selected and there is a return from injury for Jos Buttler, too. Ben Stokes – captain of the 50-over side in Morgan's absence – is left out, however, having only just made his comeback following surgery on a broken finger.

Chris Silverwood will also be missing for the home team, with England's head coach taking a break from his duties. Paul Collingwood has been placed in temporary charge.

As for Pakistan, Imad Wasim has been recalled to a squad that also includes batsman Azam Khan, son of former national team captain and coach Moin Khan.

England are at home, but Trent Bridge has not been regularly used for T20 international fixtures in the past. The home side won by seven wickets against West Indies at the venue back in June 2012, having lost by the same margin when taking on South Africa there three years earlier.

 


In the (Mah)mood for more wickets

With England opting to leave out Sam Curran, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood – three likely selections for the upcoming Test series against India – Mahmood has an opportunity to stake his claim ahead of this year's Twenty20 World Cup.

The Lancashire pace bowler finished with nine wickets at an average of 13.66 in his three ODI outings against Pakistan, all while going at just 4.39 runs per over.

Brilliant Babar to lead the way?

Pakistan captain Babar Azam made up for two low scores with a sensational 158 in the third one-dayer, albeit his efforts came in a losing cause. His innings did at least strengthen his grip on top spot in the official ODI batting rankings.

He is just as prolific in T20I cricket, too. Since the beginning of 2019, the right-hander is the only player to reach 1,000 runs in the format (1,004), while no other has managed more scores of 50 or more across that period (11).

Key series facts

- Pakistan will be aiming for back-to-back wins in men’s T20Is against England for the first time, following a five-run victory in their most recent meeting (September 1, 2020).

- England are undefeated against Pakistan from their five multigame bilateral T20I series (W3, D2); their most recent such series in 2020 ended in a draw.

- Three of the four players with the best batting averages in T20I cricket (25+ innings) could appear in this series: Dawid Malan (47.4), Babar Azam (47.3) and Mohammad Rizwan (44.4). Only Virat Kohli (52.7) has a better average in the format than the trio.

- England have the second-best batting strike rate (148.9 runs per 100 deliveries) of any Test-playing country in T20I action since the beginning of 2019 (New Zealand – 151.5).

- Fakhar Zaman (948) is 52 away from scoring 1,000 T20 runs at international level; he would be the seventh man to achieve the feat for Pakistan, and the fourth fastest to do so (45th innings) if he achieves the milestone in the first match (Babar Azam – 26 innings, Mohammad Hafeez – 41 and Ahmed Shehzad – 42).

- Pakistan pace bowler Haris Rauf has taken 25 wickets in T20I action since the beginning of 2020; only two players have taken more in that time (Tabraiz Shamsi – 26 for South Africa and Ish Sodhi – 26 for New Zealand).

Mitchell Starc held his nerve at the death to guide Australia to their maiden win of the T20I Series by four runs after the West Indies almost blasted their way to victory from an improbable position on Thursday.

Chasing 189-6, the West Indies needed 57 from 24 balls with five wickets left after Mitch Marsh took two wickets in an over, before fireworks from Fabian Allen (29 from 14) and Andre Russell (22* from 13) turned the game on its head in St Lucia.

The pair combined for four sixes from five balls in the penultimate over from Riley Meredith, needing 11 off the final over but Starc sent down five dot balls to Russell in the last to earn Australia a win which makes the series 3-1.

Australia captain Aaron Finch had won the toss and elected to bat, starting strongly with the skipper making 53 from 37 balls alongside Mitch, who top scored with 75 from 44 deliveries, in a 114-run stand.

The tourists stumbled in the middle order again, losing 40-5 with Hayden Walsh taking three wickets, before some late hitting from Dan Christian and Starc lifted them to a strong total.

The West Indies flew out of the blocks in their pursuit with Lendl Simmons posting 72 from 48 before the outstanding Marsh (24-3) dismissed him, along with Nicholas Pooran in quick succession.

All seemed lost for the hosts at 132-5 but Allen and Russell offered hope, before Starc's clutch final over.

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