Every time there has been an even number of matches in this series, Pakistan and England have been right. After six intoxicating and wildly entertaining games, neither side has been able to get away with it, and one suspects the final game would have been a decision no matter how many games this series was played.
It might be a little harsh on England that the series is even if the nature of the wins of both sides were compared. England’s triumphs have been mostly blowouts, those games that encapsulate the gap in raw T20 batting prowess between the two sides. Pakistan, meanwhile, has found ways to win victories by leveraging its intangible assets – momentum and pressure in key stages of competitions, and of course their signature unpredictability.
There were certainly elements of fortune in the way Pakistan swung those games in their favor, but no side knows better than them that careers are built at such times.
It’s perhaps ironic that the collectively longest T20I series of them all ultimately boils down to a one-match shootout, but the journey that takes us there has been little less than thrilling. Pakistan found England to be at fault after Pakistan’s tour was met with a punch during the initial Covid-19 outbreak the following year.
But since England arrived in Pakistan, there has been an outpouring of goodwill from both sides, with friendships forged off the pitch and skills matched. Crowded houses have greeted the teams at all six games, and even the presidential-level security flanking England don’t seem to have dampened their enjoyment of the tour.
It’s also perhaps fitting that during a series that has been criticized for failing to prepare conditions that would mimic the surfaces the two sides will face at the T20 World Cup in Australia, it at least ends with a do-or-die- game.
Pakistan LWWLW (last five T20Is completed, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Pakistan (probably): 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3 Shan Masood, 4 Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 Khushdil Shah, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Mohammad Hasnain/Aamer Jamal, 10 Mohammad Wasim, 11 Haris Rauf
England (probably): 1 Phil Salt (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Ben Duckett, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Moeen Ali (capt), 7 Sam Curran, 8 David Willey, 9 Liam Dawson/Adil Rashid, 10 Reece Topley, 11 Mark Wood
Location and conditions
A new pitch is expected for the final game in Lahore, but conditions will again be hot and humid.
Statistics and trivia
- David Willey is two wickets shy to become the first English left-armed bowler to take 50 T20I wickets, while Rashid needs four more to overtake Chris Jordan as England’s all-time leading wicket taker in the format.
- Two more wickets for Shadab Khan will make him the second highest T20I wicket taker for Pakistantake him past Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, and only behind Shahid Afridi’s 97.
- Pakistan has never won a multi-game T20I series against England.
Danyal Rasool is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000