LAHORE: Phil Salt’s 88 trumped Babar Azam’s 87 for England to beat Pakistan in a Twenty20 on Friday and set up a series decider.
Both openers carried their bats through the sixth match, and Salt’s extra ruthlessness was a big reason why England won by eight wickets to even the series 3-3.
They play the seventh and last match on Sunday at the same Qaddafi Stadium.
Salt smashed an unbeaten 88 off 41 balls, propelling a chasing England to 170-2 in just 14.3 overs.
Babar anchored Pakistan to 169-6 with an unbeaten 87 off 59 balls.
Salt’s brutal batting in the powerplay led England to 82-1, the most runs ever conceded by Pakistan in the first six overs.
Alex Hales made 27 off 12 balls and added 55 runs with Salt. Then Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett combined with Salt to get England home with 33 balls to spare.
In the absence of rested fast bowler Haris Rauf and an ill Naseem Shah, Pakistan’s pace bowlers struggled to halt Salt’s power-hitting.
Salt scored only 59 runs in the previous five games, but hit 13 fours and three sixes in a brutal display as hundreds of home team fans left Qaddafi in disappointment midway through England’s run chase.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the visitors after failing to chase down below-par totals in the last two games, losing by three runs at Karachi and by six runs at Lahore on Wednesday.
Earlier, Pakistan’s top order struggled without the world’s top ranked T20 batter Mohammad Rizwan, who was rested after scoring four half-centuries in the previous five games.
Rizwan’s replacement, wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris scored 7 on debut before slicing an easy catch to short third man off Richard Gleeson, who replaced the rested Chris Woakes.
Shan Masood continued to struggleat No. 3 as he was trapped lbw by David Willey for a duck, and Haider Ali couldn’t impress again by holing out in the deep on 18 off Sam Curran.
Babar held the innings together with Iftikhar Ahmed (31) and Mohammad Nawaz (12) as Pakistan made 99 runs in the latter half of its innings.
Salt and Hales combined for a rapid half-century stand off just 23 balls. Hales holed out while playing a slog sweep against legspinner Shadab Khan.
Salt and Malan scored freely against fast bowlers Shahnawaz Dahani (0-33), Aamer Jamal (0-30) and Mohammad Wasim (0-29) before Malan was trapped by Shadab on 26.
Duckett hit a breezy unbeaten 26 beside Salt to take England home.