Liam Livingstone hits fastest England ton but Pakistan win thrilling run-fest to start T20 series
Pakistan beat England by 31 runs in thrilling first T20I; Liam Livingstone scores England's fastest-ever ton, from 42 balls, including nine sixes but tourists take 1-0 series lead; watch second T20I from 2pm, Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket
By Sam Drury at Trent Bridge
Last Updated: 17/07/21 11:34am
Liam Livingstone smashed England's fastest-ever T20 century but it came in vain as Pakistan won a thrilling series opener by 31 runs at Trent Bridge.
After Pakistan posted their highest T20 international score of 232-6, England were three down inside five overs only for Livingstone - 103 from 43 balls - to keep them in the game with a stunning 42-ball century that included six fours and a staggering nine sixes.
He holed out next ball though and Eoin Morgan's side were eventually bowled out for 201.
On a favourable batting pitch and short square boundaries, Babar Azam thumped 85 from 49 balls and Mohammad Rizwan made 63 from 41 in an opening stand of 150 to set the tourists on their way to victory and Shaheen Afridi took 3-30 to put Pakistan 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Although there was early swing for David Willey, Pakistan were soon making the most of near-perfect batting conditions in Nottingham with Babar taking three boundaries off the left-armer's second over and the boundaries flowed from there.
After his brilliant 158 in the third ODI on Tuesday, the tourists' skipper continued in the same vein and more than made up for Rizwan's slow start to take Pakistan to 49-0 at the end of the powerplay.
The runs kept coming and Babar breezed to his 19th T20I fifty from 35 balls and, having suddenly rediscovered his timing, Rizwan was not far behind, sweeping Matt Parkinson for six to bring up the 100 partnership and reaching his own half-century, from 34 balls, in the next over.
Babar and Rizwan had really accelerated after the halfway stage and no bowler was spared so when Lewis Gregory finally dismissed Rizwan with a slower ball into the pitch, they could at least enjoy a moment's respite.
That was all they had though. Sohaib Maqsood (19 from 7) was dropped by Jonny Bairstow first ball and soon made England pay, smashing Tom Curran for successive sixes before holing out later in the same over.
Willey ended Babar's fine knock in the 17th over, a review needed to remove the world's No 2 T20I batsman caught behind, but some brutal hitting from Fakhar Zaman (26 from 8) and Mohammad Hafeez (24 from 10) saw Pakistan sail well past 200 despite a late clatter of wickets.
England lost Dawid Malan (1) to a superb return catch from Shaheen Afridi in the second over of the chase but Jason Roy took down Imad Wasim with three huge sixes in the third to give the chase some early momentum.
Bairstow (11 from 7) added to it by thumping Shaheen over wide long on for another maximum to start the fourth but fell two balls later after top-edging a pull shot and when Moeen Ali (1) departed to a brilliant catch from Haris Rauf as he collided with a team-mate in the deep off Mohammad Hashain, the hosts were three down inside five overs.
Chasing such a big total, there was no time to waste for England and 22 minutes after arriving at the crease, Livingstone had reached his half-century, needing just 17 balls, another England record, and thumping five sixes in the process.
Shadab Khan was on the receiving end of two of those maximums but did manage to account for Roy (32 from 13) in his first over.
The closest the game got to a lull came after Livingstone reached his fifty with Morgan unable to get going at the other end before picking out deep square off Imad in the 12th over and while Livingstone was able to get himself going again after a couple of overs, the support he needed never came.
His record-breaking moment in an innings that epitomised clean hitting came the ball after Gregory (10) had departed, Livingstone nailing Shadab over long on for yet another maximum.
The Lancashire man had no option but to try and go again though and for once in this innings, he did not make the connection he was after, picking out Shaheen at long on to give Shadab (3-52) his third wicket.
Willey (16 from 11) did his utmost to try and keep England in the hunt but, in reality, their hopes went with Livingstone and it was left to Shaheen to finish it off two balls into the final over when he bowled Parkinson with a superb yorker.
Watch the second T20 international between England and Pakistan, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 2pm on Sunday.