Phil Salt stars with the bat as England wrap up T20 series win over Pakistan

England secured a 2-0 victory in the rain-affected Vitality T20 international series with Pakistan after Phil Salt hit 45 to guide them to a seven-wicket win at the Kia Oval.

Jos Buttler and Salt put on 82 for the first wicket, which included 25 runs off Naseem Shah’s second over, to put the hosts in total control before Jonny Bairstow finished the job with 28 not out to help England successfully chase down 158.

It ensured Matthew Mott’s defending champions head to the Caribbean for the T20 World Cup after a much-needed series win, and the catalyst for this triumph in south London was an excellent team bowling display.

Mark Wood impressed in his first white-ball appearance since November with a two-wicket haul and partnered the fit-again Jofra Archer, who crucially dismissed Babar Azam for 36.

Adil Rashid was arguably the star of the show in the field though after he picked up two for 27 and claimed two catches, while Liam Livingstone also produced an excellent double-wicket maiden to bowl out Pakistan for 157, which was always below-par.

After Archer and Wood had sent down plenty of rapid deliveries, it was over to the England batters to provide fireworks and Salt made a trademark fast start.

The Lancashire opener served notice of his intent with two fours from Naseem’s first over before he pulled Muhammad Amir into the crowd for six.

Even more devastation followed when Naseem went for 25 runs from Pakistan’s fifth over, with Salt able to launch him into the stand before Buttler took centre stage.

England v Pakistan – Fourth IT20 – The Kia Oval
Harry Brook (right) and Jonny Bairstow saw England over the line (Adam Davy/PA)

A scoop for four by Buttler brought up the fifty partnership and it sparked a run of six successive boundaries, which concluded with a poor drop by wicketkeeper Azam Khan with Salt on 38.

Salt could not cash in on his reprieve and departed seven runs later to Haris Rauf, who also accounted for Buttler for 39 in his next over, but only after Azam put down another chance.

England were still well ahead of the eight-ball on 101 for two at the halfway stage of their chase and Bairstow showed his class with back-to-back maximums off Shadab Khan to guide his team over the line with 27 balls to spare.

After a 23-run victory in Birmingham on Saturday had been sandwiched between washouts at Headingley and Sophia Gardens, a familiar scene greeted both teams in south London with rain in the air, but play got under way at 6.30pm.

It enabled Archer and Wood to bowl together for the first time in 15 months with the latter able to clock 96mph with his fourth delivery.

England v Pakistan – Fourth IT20 – The Kia Oval
Jofra Archer claimed two wickets at the Oval (Adam Davy/PA)

Pakistan did claim the upper-hand in the powerplay though, with Babar able to hit successive fours off Chris Jordan to pass the 4,000-run mark in T20 cricket for his country before Moeen Ali was launched into the stand for the first six of the night.

Back-to-back boundaries followed in the next over, but Archer had the last laugh when he deceived the Pakistan captain on 36 with a slower ball that was chipped to Rashid at the short third field position.

It opened the door for England and the tourists collapsed from 59 without loss after 5.5 overs to 91 for five.

Rashid had a major say after he produced a beauty to bowl Muhammad Rizwan through the gate for 23 before Shadab played on to the world’s number one T20 bowler.

The rain forced the players off soon after, but only after Wood sent down a wicked bouncer which caught the glove of Azam and thudded into his shoulder to bring his painful five-ball innings to an end.

After a 15-minute delay, Livingstone claimed the rare feat of a double-wicket maiden from the 15th over, which included Usman Khan for a fine 38 after Jordan took an impressive catch at long-on.

There was still time for Wood to bounce out Naseem to help dismiss Pakistan for 157 and finish with two for 35 on a pleasing return to white-ball cricket that whets the appetite ahead of next week’s T20 World Cup.