Pakistan vs England sixth T20 predictions: Tourists can bounce back
England's epic seven-match Twenty20 series in Pakistan is building to a fascinating climax as the hosts have battled back from 2-1 down to lead 3-2 going into the sixth game in Lahore.
Pakistan's first win of the series was a 10-wicket romp in Karachi, where Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam shared a record-breaking opening stand of 203 but their last two victories have been far more tense.
England lost their last three wickets for just one run in a three-run defeat in the fourth T20 and in Wednesday's low-scoring contest in Lahore the hosts sealed a six-run win despite Moeen Ali's unbeaten 51.
A victory for the tourists on Friday would make it 3-3, setting up a decider on Sunday, which would be a fitting finale to a gripping series between two well-matched teams.
Relentless Rizwan holds key for Pakistan
Pakistan are often regarded as world cricket's mercurial entertainers — consistent only in their inconsistency — but that label cannot be applied to their ace batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who just keeps churning out runs.
The wicketkeeper was promoted to open the batting in T20 internationals in December 2020, scoring 89 against New Zealand in his third innings at the top of the order and 104 not out against South Africa in his fourth knock.
The unpredictable nature of T20 cricket means even the best players have lean spells with the bat but not Rizwan, it seems.
He made a gritty 63 as Pakistan were all out for 145 on a testing pitch in Wednesday's fifth T20, having scored 68 and 88 not out in the first two matches and 88, in a modest total of 166-4, in game four.
Rizwan has scored seven 50s in 11 innings since the start of the Asia Cup and England must find a way to get him out early on Friday.
Significantly, the only time they have managed it in this series was in the third T20 when he was bowled by Reece Topley for eight and Pakistan subsided to a 63-run defeat.
Moeen tuning up nicely for T20 World Cup
England would love a series victory on their first international tour of Pakistan since 2005 but the main objective is winning next month's T20 World Cup in Australia.
White-ball captain Jos Buttler is yet to feature in this series as he recovers from a calf injury and all-rounders Ben Stokes and Liam Livingstone will return to action at the World Cup.
Without those key players, stand-in skipper Moeen has stepped up to the plate and his 51 not out off 37 balls almost dragged England over the line in the low-scoring fifth T20.
Four of the top five batsmen were dismissed for 10 runs or fewer and the fifth, Dawid Malan, crawled to 36 from 35 balls, making Moeen's innings in difficult conditions even more impressive.
He hit four sixes — none of his team-mates managed to clear the ropes — and was also top England runscorer in the second T20 thanks to an unbeaten 55 from just 23 deliveries.
While Pakistan are heavily reliant on opener Rizwan and Babar Azam, middle-order men Moeen, Ben Duckett and Harry Brook have played the most eye-catching innings' for England in this series.
The experienced Moeen, 35, has hit 31 sixes in 18 innings since the start of the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE and he looks to be warming up nicely for this year's tournament.
England are 3-2 down with two games to go in the series but they could easily have been 4-1 up and they are worth backing to win the sixth T20 in Lahore.
The tourists won the first and third T20s convincingly, blew a great chance of victory in the fourth match, and their quick bowlers skittled Pakistan for 145 on Wednesday in the first game of the Lahore leg of the tour.
Mark Wood has been outstanding, cranking up the pace and claiming 3-24 and 3-20 in his two appearances, and Chris Woakes, Topley and Sam Curran have also impressed with the ball.
Early wickets will be the key for England as Pakistan's batting unit can be vulnerable unless Rizwan or Babar hold things together and Moeen's men should be confident of taking the series to a decider on Sunday.