England return 'felt like a debut again' for Hales
Alex Hales described his return to the England team as "a dream come true" that "felt like a debut again".
After not being selected for more than three years, the big hitter made a hugely successful comeback in the international game against Pakistan in Tuesday's T20I opener.
Hales scored 53 runs off 40 deliveries and built a vital 55-run partnership with youngster Harry Brook as England chased down Pakistan's total of 158 to win by six wickets with four balls to spare.
The Nottinghamshire opener has continued to impress in franchise cricket in recent years, but he had not featured for his country since a recreational drugs ban ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, which England won.
However, with Jonny Bairstow injured and Jason Roy in poor form, Jos Buttler brought Hales back into the fold for this tour.
And speaking after the opening victory, Hales was understandably delighted with his return to the international stage.
"It's a very special feeling to be back out on the park for England," he said. "Three years felt like forever. To go out and score fifty on my return, in a winning team, is the stuff dreams are made of.
"Guys have said in the past that it was never down to cricket why I missed the three years. That was never in doubt. But there were always nerves and pressure coming back after three years.
"It felt like a debut again... it feels like a dream come true to come back and contribute with a half-century in a winning team."
Of his performance, Hales added: "[It] was all about getting over the line. I wasn't quite at my fluent best, but to get fifty and steer us in the right direction meant a lot.
"There are lots of times in T20 where you don't quite feel on top of your game and you're a little bit scratchy. But the deeper you take it, the more fluent the innings becomes.
"I got a couple of boundaries away towards the end and killed the game with Harry.
"I was trying to hit boundaries; it just didn't quite happen for some reason. I didn't have quite as much strike as I would have liked. I didn't quite manage to get going in the powerplay, but that can happen.
"I still managed to dig deep and steer us in the right direction for the win."
With the T20 World Cup around the corner, Hales will look to impress in this series against Pakistan to secure his position as one of England's premier limited-overs openers.
This series marks the first time in 17 years England have played in Pakistan, with white-ball captain Buttler no doubt impressed with how his side started despite his absence as all-rounder Moeen Ali led the tourists in Karachi.