PAKISTAN: The Pakistan vs. England series now stands at 3-2 (Pak: 3, Eng: 2), and the matches keep getting better. England is currently trailing behind since cruising to a six-wicket victory in Karachi nine days ago.
They have frequently appeared to be the team in charge, only to have games wrenched out of their hands in an absurdly Pakistani manner.
In Lahore, however, spin—rather than pace—helped pull the rug out from under them, as Moeen Ali had too much catching up to do after a period of plodding middle-over accumulation against Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed.
At midway, when the hosts were bowled out with an over to spare, it did not appear conceivable that the match would end in such a nail-biting manner. Debutant all-rounder Aamer Jamal had a minor role in helping the team win the match. However, a seemingly simple chase of 146 quickly became complicated during the powerplay as openers Phil Salt and Alex Hales continued to play poorly.
Pakistan benefited from Shadab’s return because he provided more control than Usman Qadir, the legspinner he replaced, right away. However, England can take note of the fact that Iftikhar, a part-timer, was permitted to burglarize a 4-0-16-1 analysis, despite the fact that he was skillfully deployed as a left-hander match-up.
Rizwan scored his fourth half-century in five innings, defying expectations as well as the weather, and making sure that a bowling attack that is always willing to take the risk of defending a par total had something to work with.
However, a lacklustre performance from the remainder of Pakistan’s top order won’t aid their long-term planning, and Babar Azam’s easy dismissal by Mark Wood for the second time in two games may cause some concern.
Babar is currently the second-highest scorer for both teams, but as Pakistan tries to keep him healthy for the forthcoming World Cup, he might get a night off from Wood’s 150 kph/93 mph crowd-silencers.
Even though the conditions at the Australian event will be very different from this one, both of these talented teams can use a few more high-intensity battles to sharpen their skills. One more tug on the rope, and a series-deciding game seven would be all we could ask for.
Mohammad Haris filled in for Rizwan behind the stumps during England’s chase when he was struck in the back by an errant throw, so Pakistan may use this as an opportunity to rest their effective opener, or perhaps they won’t.
Mohammad Hasnain and Shahnawaz Dahani are potential replacements for Haris Rauf, who may also be in need of a break; however, Naseem Shah won’t be engaged. Naseem, who was hospitalised after being given a pneumonia diagnosis, has recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan/Mohammad Haris (wk), 3 Shan Masood, 4 Haider Ali, 5 Iftikhar Ahmed, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Aamer Jamal, 10 Haris Rauf/Mohammad Hasnain, 11 Mohammad Wasim
Although Butler said on Wednesday that he could “play tomorrow” if it was a World Cup game, he appears unlikely to be risked as he continues to recover from a calf strain.
Liam Dawson’s return could increase England’s spin options, and alterations to the seam attack are expected since the team’s management is reluctant to use Wood and Chris Woakes in consecutive matches.
England (probable): 1 Phil Salt (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Ben Duckett, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Moeen Ali (capt), 7 Sam Curran, 8 David Willey/Liam Dawson, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Olly Stone, and 11 Richard Gleeson.
Also Read: Pakistan vs England In-depth Match Preview