Phil Salt was pleased to repay England’s faith after he put a lean Twenty20 series against Pakistan behind him with a magnificent match-winning knock in Lahore.
Salt came into the must-win match with a total of 59 runs in his five innings on tour, but was in irresistible touch as he blitzed 88 not out from just 41 deliveries.
His destruction of the Pakistan attack included three sixes and 13 boundaries, with a flurry of powerful straight hits down the ground, as England cruised to their target of 170 with more than five overs to spare.
How good is this series!? 👏
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 30, 2022
An eight-wicket success means an entertaining series will go all the way to the wire, with the teams locked at 3-3 heading into Sunday’s finale at the same ground.
That match is set to give Salt another opportunity to express himself against the new ball, following instructions that have never wavered despite his sequence of low scores.
“I’m very grateful for the backing I’ve got from my team-mates and the management. It’s very clear the way they want me to play,” he said.
“The way I play is aggressive and I want to win as many games as possible while I’m in an England shirt. The first few games haven’t gone to plan – I’ve been finding ways to get out, hitting fielders or whatever – but it’s nice to come up in a big game with the series on the line with a performance like that.
“It’s always a challenge at the top of the order when you feel like you’re playing well but you’re picking out fielders and finding ways to get out.
“It was definitely (my best T20 innings) and it was nice to do it with the series in the balance.”
Whether Salt retains his slot at the top of the order for next month’s World Cup remains to be seen.
White-ball captain Jos Buttler has missed the entire series with a calf injury, despite travelling with the team throughout, but is on track to reclaim his spot at the top of the order by the time the competition comes around.
That means one of Salt or Alex Hales will have to make way, but that is not a situation that concerns the 26-year-old.
“You need competition, the best sides in the world have competition and you can’t get away from that, it’s the same in any sport,” he said.
“Everyone is trying to put their best foot forwards and show the coaching team and the team-mates how good they are.
“I’m not looking too far into the future, I’m just focused on the next game in a couple of days’ time.”