Returning Jofra Archer helps England beat Pakistan to take T20 series lead

Jofra Archer claimed two wickets on his long-awaited return to international cricket to help England beat Pakistan by 23 runs at Edgbaston to move 1-0 up in the four-match T20 series.

This was Archer’s first appearance on the international stage in 14 months, but he had not played for his country on English soil since 2020 after an injury-hit few years where he had been troubled by repeated issues with his right elbow.

Archer was able to make up for lost time and bounce back from an expensive first over which went for 15 runs to finish with two for 28 and help England dismiss Pakistan for 160 in pursuit of 184.

England’s 183 for seven was largely down to a blistering half-century from captain Jos Buttler, who struck three sixes on his way to 84 before a collapse of five wickets for 25 runs left the door open for Pakistan.

Fakhar Zaman ensured Pakistan made a strong start to their chase with 45 off 21 balls, but Reece Topley picked up three wickets and Moeen Ali and Archer claimed two scalps each to help England begin their T20 World Cup preparations with a victory after Wednesday’s washout in Leeds.

Buttler resisted the temptation to open the bowling with Archer and went with Moeen, which paid off when Mohammad Rizwan picked out Liam Livingstone at midwicket to depart for a duck.

England were well on top when Topley claimed the scalp of Saim Ayub from his second over, but it brought Fakhar to the crease.

Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler starred with the bat for England (Bradley Collyer/PA)

While Fakhar edged his first delivery over Moeen in the slips, it sparked a run of fours from each of his first five deliveries.

Archer’s eagerly-anticipated return arrived next, but Fakhar provided the England bowler with a reminder of how brutal international cricket can be.

After Babar Azam hit Archer’s second delivery back over his head for four, Fakhar finished the over with a ramp shot for six as Pakistan ended the powerplay on 55 for two.

With the match in the balance, Buttler turned to Moeen and Adil Rashid, who silenced a partisan Pakistan-dominated crowd.

England v Pakistan – Second IT20 – Edgbaston
Moeen Ali (centre) made an early breakthrough for England (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Moeen claimed the decisive wicket of Babar for 32 when he pinned him in front lbw and Rashid backed it up with the dismissal of Shadab Khan.

Pakistan reached the midway point on 80 for four before Archer got in on the act.

Archer’s first delivery of his second spell was pitched up, clocked 90mph and accounted for wicketkeeper Azam Khan, who spliced to Moeen at cover.

A typically relaxed celebration followed from Archer, who trudged back to his mark with a big smile like he had taken a wicket in front of a handful of people, which had been the case for the Sussex second team last week.

England’s stranglehold increased when Fakhar’s scintillating innings concluded after he skied Livingstone to the onrushing Harry Brook at mid-on.

There was still time for Archer to return for another one-over spell, which brought about the wicket of Imad Wasim before Topley finished the job when Shaheen Afridi slog-swept to Phil Salt to give Topley figures of three for 41.

Pakistan captain Babar had earlier made Archer wait for his chance with the ball when he put England in to bat, but Buttler soon signalled his intent with two scorching fours down the ground off Shaheen’s second over.

England v Pakistan – Second IT20 – Edgbaston
Fakhar Zaman kept Pakistan in contention (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The early introduction of left-arm spinner Imad accounted for Salt cheaply, but Will Jacks joined forces with Buttler and took 15 runs off Haris Rauf, which included a sumptuous drive for the first six of the day.

Jacks continued to impress and put on 71 with Buttler before Rauf ended his fine knock on 37 to deny him a maiden T20 international fifty.

Buttler had already targeted leg-spinner Shadab by this point and after he reached his half-century with a wonderful ramp shot off Rauf, the England captain moving through the gears.

A reverse sweep for another maximum proved the catalyst for Shadab’s final over to go for 20 runs, but the hosts’ momentum was checked when Jonny Bairstow’s dismissal on 144 for two sparked a collapse.

England lost their next five wickets for 25 runs and that allowed Archer to produce an unexpected cameo of 12 not out to set 184 to win, which proved too many for Pakistan.