England captain Moeen Ali insisted that a one-off “gamble” on his own off-spin was the defining moment after Pakistan duo Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan’s match-winning masterclass.
The home side were chasing a sensational 200 at the Karachi National Stadium as Babar’s unbeaten 110 and 88 not out from Rizwan saw them over the line without losing a single wicket.
The pair were exemplary as they made a formidable chase look easy, but despite having just six overs in the innings, Moeen tried to take the blame on behalf of his team.
He batted at number 13 and leaked 21 runs, including three sixes, as Pakistan built a dominant position.
“The momentum changed when I converted. It really gave them belief and after that they were almost unstoppable,” he said after the home side leveled at 1-1 after two games.
“I felt it was under control for most of it. I honestly feel like I lost the game for us. It was a gamble on my part.
“I went to try and get a wicket, almost bought a wicket. Obviously it didn’t work and then Pakistan really won the game.
By the time Moeen came on, Alex Hales had already claimed 23 off Rizwani’s Liam Dawson, another moment that proved decisive for the result.
“Obviously we dropped a big catch. You can’t afford to drop them and you can’t afford to drop them at such a big time,” he added.
Moeen paid tribute to Pakistan’s batting heroes, who both started the series ranked in the top three in the world, and hit back at the criticism their own fans have also received.
Local pundits shamed them for not scoring quickly enough in the recent Asian Cup, but a more perfect response could hardly have been imagined.
“They played really, really well tonight. I know they get a lot of flak for their strike rates, but I think their strike rates are really good anyway and they’re great players.
“Sometimes media outlets put pressure on players even when they are doing well. They were great and today was their day.
England won’t have long to lick their wounds, with back-to-back games meaning the third of the seven matches will take place on Friday night, with a bowling attack likely.