England aim to sign off summer on a high

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31 Aug 2020 | 11:58 AM
Pramod Ananth

England aim to sign off summer on a high

While England look to clinch the series 2-0, Pakistan will hope to draw level in the third T20I



England set two records from their emphatic win in the second T20 International (T20I) on Sunday. They achieved the highest successful target against Pakistan in T20Is and also registered the second-highest successful chase in England. As we gear up for the third and final T20I, England have a chance to win yet another series against Pakistan, although it may not be that straightforward.

Pakistan registered their highest T20I total over England in the second game, but that was not enough. The one thing both teams will agree to is the fact that the legspinners played a huge role in determining the outcome. Out of the nine wickets to fall on Sunday, the legspinners accounted for 5 for 66 from eight overs combined. 

Unfortunately, both teams do not have an extra leggie, barring a few part-time options, but instead the teams must look at this as an opportunity for other bowlers to step up to the plate and deliver.  

It is safe to say that the previous match was dominated by batsmen. While there is little doubt over Eoin Morgan’s prowess to hit the ball cleanly, Dawid Malan’s inclusion into this depleted side is a breath of fresh air. It’s a mystery as to how he stays out of a full-fledged side as no player in the world has a higher average than Malan currently in the shortest format.

Speaking of Morgan, he has the highest strike-rate in T20Is over the last two years. With both Morgan and Malan in full flow, one can understand why the Pakistan batsmen failed to contain them.

While talking about explosive batting, one cannot forget that the Pakistan batsmen too contributed to the fireworks initially, with Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez’s fifties taking them to their highest T20I total against England. Their batsmen did all they could, but it was their bowlers who let them down. Mohammad Amir limped off the field after bowling just two overs and Babar accepted that the team struggled after their main bowler got injured. 

Pakistan gave their part-timer Iftikhar Ahmed an over too many, which proved to be fatal. The off-spinner in a bid to make up for Amir’s overs conceded just 13 from his first two overs, but his third over went for 18 runs, which could have been avoided had a regular bowler come on. 

Pakistan have enough bench strength to replace Amir though, with Wahab Riaz – another left-arm pacer – who could be a like-for-like replacement. There have also been calls for one of Shoaib Malik or Hafeez to be replaced by 19-year-old Haider Ali, who is considered to be a long-term prospect. Hafeez may have sealed his place with a 36-ball 69, which could pave way for Haider to come in place of Malik. 

Pakistan likely XI: Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik/Haider Ali, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir/Wahab Riaz, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi

What makes England better than Pakistan is the fact that they have scored consistently well in all three phases of the game. If you compare their performances since 2019, England have been superior to Pakistan with the bat in all three phases by a long margin and when it comes to bowling, England have once again put emphasis on picking up wickets at regular intervals, which is something Pakistan have ignored. 

Pakistan’s run-rate 7, 7.9 and 8.6 across three phases are among the worst in T20Is since 2019, while England have been closer to the top. Pakistan bridged the yawning gap with some explosive batting in the second T20I, but it was their lack of wicket-taking and containing abilities that let them down. 

Also, their over-dependence on Babar is another factor. He has scored close to 500 runs in T20Is since 2019, when no-one other than him has even scored 200. In a bid to boost their batting, Pakistan could consider promoting Shadab Khan up the order, where he scored 263 at 37.57, which included three fifties in the recent edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).  

The positive for England is that they cannot lose the series, but knowing the hunger they possess, the will go all guns blazing to win it 2-0. Bringing in David Willey in place of Lewis Gregory could be a great addition for England. England also have Joe Denly on the bench, who is also a part-time leg-break bowler. He could be handy replacement for Moeen Ali, who bowled just an over and lasted just two deliveries in the second T20I.

Also, if Willey and Denly do get a game, England would have tested out everyone in their squad. A series win with this squad would be a huge achievement for England, who are playing without some of their top players.

England likely XI: Tom Banton, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali/Joe Denly, Lewis Gregory/David Willey, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood

Just like in the second T20I, weather will mostly not play a part in the game and we should have a full contest on our hands. With the team going on to win five out of the six completed matches at Manchester, the captain that wins the toss would once again most likely chose to field.

Match: England vs Pakistan, 3rd T20I

Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester

Time: 10:30 PM IST

Date: September 1, 2020 (Tuesday)

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