|Twenty20 international, Cardiff|
|Pakistan 173-6 (20 overs): Babar 65, Haris 50, Archer 2-29|
|England 175-3 (19.2 overs): Morgan 57*, Root 47|
|England won by seven wickets|
England chased 174 efficiently to beat Pakistan by seven wickets in the Twenty20 international in Cardiff, on a day when Jofra Archer again impressed.
Archer picked up 2-29 and effected a direct-hit run-out, removing both Babar Azam (65) and Haris Sohail (50), the mainstays of Pakistan’s 173-6.
A potentially tricky target was reached with four balls to spare thanks to Eoin Morgan’s 57 not out from only 29 balls.
The captain sealed victory with a six from the second ball of the final over.
These two sides now move on to five one-day internationals in preparation for the World Cup, the first of which is at The Oval on Wednesday.
And, although it is difficult to put the result of a one-off T20 into context, all England performances are currently being viewed with the World Cup in mind.
With Indian Premier League players Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali rested here, there was a chance for those on the fringe to press their claims.
As well as Archer, Ben Duckett and Ben Foakes were given debuts. Archer grabbed his chance, while Joe Denly showed his World Cup value by supporting Morgan at the end of the chase.
Archer shows his worth
In making his one-day international bow against Ireland on Friday, Archer showed glimpses of his talent. Here, he gave a greater exhibition of the benefits of his pace, variations, control and electric fielding.
Into the attack in the fifth over, the Sussex man immediately topped 90mph and hurried Imam-ul-Haq into gloving a hook shot to wicketkeeper Foakes.
When he returned to the attack in the 16th over, Archer removed both Haris and Babar after they had shared a third-wicket stand of 103.
Firstly, a short slower ball resulted in Haris picking out David Willey on the leg-side fence, then Archer capitalised on a mix-up to run out Babar by gathering the ball, turning and nailing a direct hit at the non-striker’s stumps.
Babar and Haris lead Pakistan charge
Still, if Archer is to force his way into England’s World Cup 15, there is the difficult decision on who he should replace from the preliminary squad named in April.
Willey and Tom Curran, both in that party, did themselves no harm here. Left-armer Willey was again reliable, while Curran has the variety of a plethora of slower balls. Both can contribute with the bat.
Indeed, it was Chris Jordan, himself trying to muscle in on the World Cup, who suffered a damaging day, conceding 41 runs from his four overs.
It was off the bowling of Jordan that Haris kickstarted a ponderous Pakistan innings into life by launching over cow corner for six.
While Haris was all heaves and slices, Babar – top of the world’s T20 international batting rankings – played orthodox strokes in between three maximums to the on side.
When they departed, there was a danger that Pakistan would stagnate, only for the wayward Jordan to concede 16 from the final over.
Morgan sees England home
Even with Cardiff’s short straight boundaries, a target of 174 was a stiff ask against a Pakistan side taken to the top of the world T20 rankings largely on the strength of their pace bowling.
James Vince is in pole position to replace Alex Hales in the World Cup squad and, after he saw outside contender Duckett fall for only nine, looked to be securing his place by alternating class with brutality.
However, he was given out caught down the leg off the spin of Imad Wasim for 36, failing to overturn the decision even though replays suggested he may have hit the ground.
From there, with 108 required from 11 overs, Joe Root and captain Morgan kept England in touch. Root, not an England T20 regular, played classical strokes and cheeky flicks, while Morgan pulled to long leg and bulleted drives through the covers.
Root departed for 47, trying to uppercut Hasan Ali, with 43 required from 27 balls, but the nerveless Morgan found a new ally in Denly as Pakistan began to get ragged with the ball and in the field.
Twenty-nine from the final three overs became 17 off two, with Denly effectively settling it by hitting Shaheen Afridi over long-on for six from the first ball of the 18th.
Only seven were required from the final set – Morgan slapping Faheen Ashraf over the long-off fence to finish with a flourish.