Billings' blistering knock helps England outclass Pakistan
England 160-5 (Billings 53) beat
Pakistan 146 (Sohail Tanvir 25no) by 14 runs
First Twenty20 International, Dubai
England won the toss and chose to bat first and in the second over of their innings, Alex Hales (8) was dropped by Sohail Tanvir (2-31), who failed to hold onto a return catch.
Jason Roy (9) struck a boundary but was out to the next delivery, trying to hit Tanvir over mid-on, only to be caught by Imran Khan (0-42).
A short delivery from Anwar Ali (1-19) took a leading edge of Hales, which was caught at mid-off.
England were in further trouble when Moeen Ali’s attempted cover drive found the hands of cover, giving Tanvir his second wicket. They were reduced to 19 for three when Moeen departed for a duck.
Debutant James Vince (41) struck three boundaries before the end of the powerplay to push the score to 40 for three.
Vince, along with his captain Eoin Morgan (45 not out). began to undo the early damage with some positive cricket with the result that at the halfway stage, England managed to post 67 for three.
The pair added 76 runs for the fourth wicket, giving England the much needed platform to accelerate towards the end although a straight delivery from Wahab Riaz (1-33) castled Vince and broke the dangerous looking stand.
Billings (53) started on a positive note with a couple of boundaries, then Morgan survived a dropped chance and went on play the anchor role as Billings took on the mantle of the aggressor.
The wicket-keeper batsman dispatched Khan for two fours and a six, following it up with a six and a four off Riaz, racing to a 24-ball fifty in the final over of the match.
The last ball of the innings produced a wicket as Billings was run out trying to sneak a bye. 59 runs came in the last five overs as England pushed their total to 160 for five.
Tanvir had two wickets to his name while Anwar and Riaz had one each.
Pakistan survived an early scare in the chase when Rafatullah Mohmand (16) was dropped behind the stumps.
In the next over, Sarfraz Ahmed (1) attempted to slog a delivery but holed out to deep square leg off the bowling of Reece Topley (3-24).
Liam Plunkett (3-21) picked up his first wicket when Mohammad Hafeez (7) picked out Topley at deep square leg.
Mohmand’s debut came to a tame end in the sixth over when he tried to pull a delivery from Plunkett, only to result in a top edge that was caught by the keeper and at the end of the powerplay, Pakistan were 32 for three.
Stephen Parry (2-33) was introduced to the attack in the seventh over and he immediately created an impact by dismissing Mohammad Rizwan (6) as Pakistan struggled to keep up with the required rate.
Meanwhile, Umar Akmal (19) struck a six and a four before a misunderstanding with Sohaib Maqsood (24) caused him to be run out, both players finishing up at the same end.
In the same over, Shahid Afridi (0) looked to loft Parry over long-off, but struck it straight to mid-off, where Roy made no mistake leaving Pakistan reeling at 74 for six.
The pressure got the better of Maqsood as he was stumped in the 12th over, while attempting to get down the track against Moeen (1-30), meaning Pakistan had lost half of their side with 87 runs still needed from 47 balls.
Anwar (20) hit a couple of sixes off Parry to raise the hopes of Pakistan but he soon holed out to the covers in the next over, handing Plunkett his third wicket of the night.
With five overs left, Pakistan needed 61 more runs for the win and they found 45 from Wahab Riaz (21) and Tanvir (25 not out) for the ninth wicket.
However, with 20 runs required from the final over, Pakistan ended up being bowled out for 146, falling short by 15 runs.
Plunkett and Topley had three wickets each, while Parry picked up two. Billings was adjudged the man of the match for his terrific knock.
The second T20I of the series will be played on Friday in Dubai.
© Cricket World 2015