Brilliant Billings fires England to opening win

DUBAI, (Reuters) – Sam Billings played an inspired innings to help England to a comfortable 14-run victory in the first Twenty20 international against Pakistan yesterday.

Billings smashed 53 off 25 balls to lift England to a competitive total of 160 for five on a slow pitch and Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals in their reply.

“I’ve been on the sidelines watching the guys smash it everywhere. It’s the nature of the job – you’ve just got to be ready,” man-of-the-match Billings told Sky Sports.

Sam Billings
Sam Billings

“How I played is a credit to Morgy (captain Eoin Morgan) – he said ‘play your way, play exactly how you got here in the first place’. Against a seriously decent attack, it’s really pleasing to make a contribution.”

England, who won the toss, slumped to 19 for three before James Vince, who made 41 on his debut, shared a third-wicket partnership of 76 with Morgan.

That laid the platform for Billings to use terrific improvisation to plunder runs all round the ground.

The young wicketkeeper, deputising for the rested Jos Buttler, hit two sixes and five fours in a stand of 65 with Morgan who finished unbeaten on 45.

Pakistan lost three early wickets and never looked like chasing down their target, Sohail Tanvir top-scoring with 25 not out as seamers Reece Topley and Liam Plunkett took three wickets each.

“Tonight was a really strong performance in which we showed a lot of character. To come back from 19-3 and then to defend 160 was really good,” Morgan said.

“It is always a good sign of a changing-room when players who haven’t played all tour come out and perform – I’m really proud of them.”

Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez tried to remain upbeat.

“It was a chaseable total. But we batted very poorly. I know we lost this game but we’ve got some positive things from it,” he said.

The second match in the three-game series is in Dubai today.

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