England captain Moeen Ali insisted a one-over “gamble” on his own off-spin was the deciding moment after a match-winning masterclass from Pakistan duo Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.
The home side chased down a target of 200 in sensational fashion at Karachi’s National Stadium, as Babar’s unbeaten 110 and 88 not out from Rizwan got them over the line without losing a single wicket.
The pair were exemplary as they made a daunting chase look straightforward, but despite bowling just six deliveries in the innings Moeen attempted to take the blame on behalf of his team.
He brought himself on for the 13th over and leaked 21 runs, including three sixes, as Pakistan moved themselves into a dominant position.
“The momentum changed when I bowled my over. That really gave them the belief and after that they were almost unstoppable,” he said after the home side made it 1-1 after two games.
“I felt like it was under control for most of it. I genuinely feel my over lost the game for us. That was a gamble on my part.
“I went to try and get a wicket, almost buy a wicket. Obviously it didn’t work and that’s when Pakistan really won the game.”
By the time Moeen came on Alex Hales had already dropped Rizwan on 23 off Liam Dawson, another moment that proved crucial to the outcome.
“We dropped a big catch obviously. You can’t afford to drop them and you can’t afford to bowl an off-spinner to them at such a big time,” he added.
Moeen paid tribute to Pakistan’s batting heroes, who both started the series in the top three of the world rankings, and hit back at some of the criticism they have been subject too from their own fans.
They were lambasted by local pundits for not scoring quickly enough at the recent Asia Cup, but could hardly have envisaged a more perfect response.
“They played really, really well tonight. I know they get a lot of stick for their strike-rates but I believe their strike-rates are very good anyway and they are brilliant players.
“Sometimes media outlets pressure players even when they’re doing well. They were brilliant and today it was their day.”
England do not have long to lick their wounds, with back-to-back fixtures meaning the third of the seven games takes place on Friday night, with changes likely among the bowling attack.