Pakistan v England: T20 World Cup final – live | T20 World Cup 20223 min read
Simon Burnton, our man at the MCG, says that Mark Wood has marked out his run-up – but so has Chris Jordan, so who knows. It sounds like Dawid Malan hasn’t made it.
I’d imagine Pakistan will be unchanged; we haven’t heard anything to the contrary.
Hello and welcome to live, over-by-over coverage of the World T20 final between England and Pakistan in Melbourne. It’s the best batting line-up in the world against the best bowling attack – or, to put it another way, the irresistible force versus the irresistible force.
It is also – just imagine the reaction had you pitched this little beauty in March 2015 – England’s third World Cup final in six years, and a chance to cement their legacy as one of the greatest white-ball sides of all time. No men’s team has been ODI and T20 world champions at the time, not even the great West Indies side of the late 1970s.
There’s just one snag: they’re playing Pakistan. Pakistan, whose cornered tigers savaged England so euphorically in the 50-over final on this ground in 1992; Pakistan, who do unto logic as – get your contemporary references here – David Brent does unto faxes from head office; Pakistan, who lost their first two games and were 50/1 to win the World Cup eight days ago; Pakistan, whose every ICC tournament victory – 1992, 2009, 2017 – has involved them having the best view from the precipice throughout; Pakistan, who on their day leave even the strongest opposition wondering what the haal has hit them.
That’s the image we have of Pakistan – although, at the risk of being the pedant at the orgy, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. In their own merculiar way, they have been the most consistent T20 team of all since the first World Cup in 2007. Nobody has reached as many semi-finals; nobody has played in more finals.
The relationship between England and Pakistan has changed – there’s lot more respect, and nobody’s mother-in-law will be getting a mention tonight. The teams are also far closer in style and mood than they used to be. But they will never have everything in common.
Take the opening partnerships. Both are world-class, both have beaten India by 10 wickets at a World T20 in the past 13 months, yet they have different cat-skinning methodologies. It’s England’s cold-hearted bruisers, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales (average partnership 74, strike-rate 158), versus Pakistan’s careful caressers, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan (avge 50, with a much greater sample size; strike-rate 132). Babar and Rizwan’s century stand in the semi-final hammering of New Zealand was their eighth for the first wicket in T20Is. That’s twice as many as anyone else.
England’s openers go harder because the teams bats down to No11. Pakistan’s tail starts at No8, and they’ll display it with pride – because Nos 8-11 are in the team to take wickets, and they can all bowl in excess of 90mph. Buttler and Babar know – as captains and openers, for richer and poorer – that each bowling attack has enviable variety: legspinners, offspinners, right-armers, left-armers. Whoever the batter, there’s a match-up for that.
The whole thing is impossibly exciting. Or it would be if we hadn’t spent the last 72 hours looking at weather apps. A World Cup that has been defined by bad weather may yet be decided by it. When I went to bed last night I thought there was no chance to play today, and that I’d be home in time for Dawson’s Creek, but things are looking more promising now. The cold November rain is nowhere to be seen – Melbourne has been unexpectedly dry today, though the forecast is still for heavy showers both tonight and throughout the reserve day tomorrow.
We need at least 10 overs a side for the game to be completed. If they can’t manage that by tomorrow evening then England and Pakistan will be joint world champions, and supposedly responsible adults will start using that icky phrase about kissing your sister.
The match begins, weather permitting, at 8am in London, 1pm in Karachi and 7pm in Melbourne