Tom Banton shines before rain ruins first T20

Tom Banton announced himself on the international stage with a thrilling 71 off 42 balls before rain washed out England’s first Twenty20 against Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford.

The 21-year-old became the youngest England player to score a T20 half-century as he hit four fours and five sixes.

His departure was the first of four wickets to fall for 14 runs, shortly before rain intervened with England 131-6 after 16.1 overs.

Play was abandoned at 21:00 BST, although better weather is forecast for the second T20 of the three-match series at the same ground on Sunday.

That game will be shown live on BBC One at 13:45, the return of live cricket to the BBC for the first time in 21 years.

One of the most devastating limited-overs batsmen on the county circuit, Banton had a solitary fifty to show from his opening nine games for England in one-day and T20 cricket.

There was little early on in Manchester to suggest he would buck that trend, put down by Iftikhar Ahmed – a regulation chance at slip – on five and struggling for timing on a two-paced pitch after seeing Jonny Bairstow drill the fifth delivery of the game back to Imad Wasim.

That England’s first 50 runs took 49 balls – their slowest start since the last T20 World Cup – reflected Banton and Dawid Malan’s lack of fluency.

The next 50 came off only 19 deliveries, thanks largely to Banton’s brilliance.

If three leg-side sixes off leg-spinner Shadab Khan demonstrated his reach and power, the casual ramp over fine leg for six off Haris Rauf, Pakistan’s quickest bowler, was an example of his range of stroke and astonishing hand-eye co-ordination.

Having been involved in a mix-up that left Malan stranded mid-pitch and run out for 23, Banton skied a leading edge to cover as he aimed across the line in the 13th over.

Eoin Morgan was lbw on the sweep to Iftikhar moments later, Moeen Ali was caught behind attempting to cut Shadab, and Lewis Gregory was stumped advancing to Imad.

The impact of England’s slide from 109-2 to 123-6 was such that they will arguably have been the happier of the sides when rain arrived at 19:20.

In reaching fifty off 33 balls, Banton took the record held by Jonny Bairstow, who was 22 when he made his maiden T20 half-century for England.

“I am always going to play that way no matter what happens,” Somerset batsman Banton told BBC Test Match Special.

“It was good fun tonight and unfortunately the rain got the better of us.”

Banton had managed only 56 runs in three T20s since making his England debut in New Zealand in November.

“It’s a bit of confidence moving forward because I have not had that in the past,” he said.

“I was in Pakistan for the PSL (Pakistan Super League) and didn’t do that well, so I was a bit worried coming into this game.

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