Rain threatened to steal fans of a scintillating encounter as forecasts seemed bleak for the rain gods decided to shower mercy on the fans worldwide. The sun shone brightly and lit up the eyes of the all as Pakistan and England were all set to chase their dream of winning a world cup.
Jos Buttler won the toss and elected to bowl first, an important moment in the game with the rain threat looming but mainly cause batting first in an all-important final can always prove to be a difficult ask. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan came into the game after finding some form but failed to press the accelerator at any moment during the first 6 overs. Both batters struggled to score boundaries and Rizwan perished once again trying to play on the off-side. Mohammad Haris failed to provide any impetus to the innings as he fell prey to shrewd and excellent captaincy of Jos Buttler and guile of Adil Rashid. Shan Masood walked out with a great buzz and looked busy on the crease, placing the balls in gaps, running quick twos and took Livingstone to the cleaners in the 11th over scoring 16 runs off it.
Rashid who had a quiet tournament in terms of wickets rose to the occasion as he foxed Pakistani skipper with a googly and accounted for his wicket. Ben Stokes was brought back into the attack to extract something out of the surface that had extra bounce and immediately surprised Iftikhar with a sharp delivery that got his edge. Shabab and Masood did steady the ship a little with their fightback but Sam Curran, England death overs specialist this edition ran through the batting order and strangled the run flow in the last few overs. Pakistan reached a below par total of 137-8 but boasted of possessing the best bowling attack of the campaign.
Shaheen Shah Afridi may not be at 100% fitness but his dedication and determination to contribute cannot be questioned. A wicket in his over is almost an inevitable event as the pacer accounted for Alex Hales with a beautiful delivery that rocked his leg stump. Naseem Shah begun his spell with excellent lines as he had Buttler fending and poking but the skipper had a resolute determined look in his eyes and stamped his authority as they raced to 28 of 3 overs. Salt looked to play aggressively and fell in the process as Naseem Shah ran in and made Buttler dance in the crease, making the world class batter look out of sorts, a great advocate of the talent that Pakistan produces. Buttler scooped him for a six behind the keeper as he continued to be brave and rode his luck. The local lad Haris Rauf was steaming in and getting to the ball to dance on his tunes and in a moment that stunned the expectant crowd at MCG, Rauf bowls it at a length and ball springs off the surface taking the edge with it.
England were in a spot of bother but were not in panic state yet with their deep batting line up and heartthrob Stokes at the crease. He along with Harry Brooks saw through a tricky phase of play, playing cautiously and not taking too many chances, a luxury they could afford after a strong start in the powerplay. Brooks fell after a slow but handy contribution and Moeen Ali walked out to a tense atmosphere at the ‘G.’ Naseem Shah was amid a wonderful spell that had shades of Wahab Riaz 2015 but ended his spell wicketless and disappointed.
Shaheen Afridi walked out of the field limping and holding his knee, a visual that no Pakistan fan would enjoy. Stokes and Ali played within themselves and the required climbed up to nervous levels but Shaheen Afridi’s injury meant that Babar Azam needed to finish his quota from elsewhere. Iftikhar Ahmed was thrown the ball and Stokes decided to push the pedal, scoring 10 off two deliveries. Moeen Ali too stepped on the gas and smashed Wasim Jr for three boundaries and England completely blew the game away from Pakistan, requiring just 12 of the last 3 overs. Ali fell but English cricket’s poster boy made that the he saw his team to the end and with 1 run required to win, Stokes swings to the legside and lets out a huge roar as England come out triumphant and Stokes white ball legacy reaches a full circle, with the ghosts of 2016 being buried to the ground. The cricketing world will remember his name for years to come as someone who rose from the flames to climb the mountain and achieve the unthinkable.
Jos Buttler being handed over the captaincy just 6 months prior to the campaign, flies’ home with a T20 World Cup trophy in his cabinet as England’s white ball continues to soar and reach level of new greatness.