Sam takes top Billings as England beat Pakistan
Sam Billings scored his maiden half-century for England as Pakistan were beaten by 14 runs in the first Twenty20 international of the series in Dubai on Thursday.
Wicketkeeper Billings was selected instead of Jos Buttler and made the most of his chance to stake a claim for the ICC World Twenty20 in India early next year by making a scintillating 53 from only 25 balls.
England debutant James Vince (41 from 36) also grasped his opportunity with Joe Root rested and captain Eoin Morgan (45 not out off 38) was in the runs as England recovered from 19-3 to post 160-5 in the first game of the three-match series.
Pakistan have surged up to second in the T20 rankings and had won six games in a row before the series opener, but Liam Plunkett (3-21) and Reece Topley (3-24) were the pick of the bowlers as they were bowled out for 146.
Jason Roy (9) and Alex Hales (8) scored their maiden one-day international centuries in the recent 3-1 series victory, but fell cheaply after Morgan won the toss and opted to bat first.
Sohail Tanvir (2-31) made Moeen Ali (0) his second victim to leave England in a mess on 19-3 in the fourth over, but Vince and Morgan then combined for a much-needed stand of 76.
Buttler produced fireworks with an incredible record-breaking knock in the final ODI last week and fellow glovesman Billings put on a show with an entertaining innings including two sixes and five fours.
Billings scored 17 of the 19 runs that came off a fruitful 18th over from Imran Khan – showing great timing, touch and great imagination – then scooped Wahab Riaz for four and then six in consecutive deliveries before being run out from the final delivery.
Pakistan, without Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Malik due to illness and injury respectively, were 25-3 in the fifth over when 39-year-old opener Rafatullah Mohmand was caught behind off Plunkett on his long-awaited international debut.
Sohaib Maqsood (24) and Umar Akmal (19) were involved in a shambolic mix-up that resulted in both batsmen running their bat in at the same end and the latter run out after the third umpire was consulted.
Anwar Ali (20), Tanvir (25no) and Wahab (21) gave Pakistan hope, but the hosts needed 20 from the last over and fell short as Topley struck twice.