England have set a shining example of how to conduct cricket during these pandemic times. After successfully hosting two Test and one ODI series, it is now time for some 20-over action. The three-match T20 International series between England and Pakistan will commence on Friday with all matches to be held at Old Trafford, in Manchester.
HEAD TO HEAD IN T20Is
Overall: Matches – 15 | ENG – 11 Wins | PAK – 4 Wins
In England: Matches – 6 | ENG – 4 Wins | PAK – 2 Wins
Last 5 matches: ENG – 4 Wins | PAK – 1 Win
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms we come up with six different teams that could fetch crucial points
There hasn’t been any white-ball cricket played at Manchester this summer but the venue has hosted three Tests. Like most surfaces in England in the limited-overs format, the one at Old Trafford has favoured batsmen. While there have been only 3 T20 Internationals played here over the last five years, this venue has seen a lot of T20 cricket, owing to the Vitality Blast.
In 15 T20 matches since the start of 2018, the average first innings score at Old Trafford is 162 with the average run-rate being 8.3. Batsmen have scored at 25.5 runs per wicket with the bowlers only managing a wicket every 18.4 balls.
The pitch could well favour the batsmen in the first T20I, so stacking them in your side should be essential.
While pacers have returned a few more wickets at Manchester in T20 matches since 2018, the spinners have a better strike rate, average and economy rate.
In T20s here since 2018, the spinners have picked up wickets at a balls/dismissal ratio of 18.5 as compared to pacers who have a strike rate of 21.3.
Both sides have quality batsmen and spinners at their disposal. You could go for the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Babar Azam in your setup while Adil Rashid and Imad Wasim could also be good choices.
There could also be a few interesting matchups at our disposal.
Eoin Morgan has faced Mohammad Hafeez four times in T20Is and has fallen to him twice. His average against Hafeez is a mere 9.5.
While Sam Billings and Wahab Riaz haven’t faced off a lot in T20Is, the left-arm pacer has gotten the better of the batsman in various domestic leagues. In 4 T20 games, Billings averages just 8.3 against the pacer.
The Fakhar Zaman v Tom Curran battle at the top could be an interesting one. The pacer has dismissed Zaman twice in 3 T20 innings.
England’s highest run-scorer in T20 Internationals since the start of 2019, Eoin Morgan showed good form against Ireland in the ODI series earlier this month. He scored a century in the third match and in general looked fluent. Since 2019, Morgan has scored 404 runs in 12 T20Is averaging 50.5. What stands out here is his strike-rate of 171.9. He also has a good record against Pakistan in the format having scored 300 runs in 12 T20Is against them at an average of 42.86. Morgan is undoubtedly one of the best finishers in the game presently and can help you score a lot of points once he is in.
Our Criclytics Player Projection says Morgan will score 13 to 30 runs in the 1st T20I.
Our first X-factor is World No.1 T20I batsman Babar Azam. Easily Pakistan’s best all-format player, Babar has made waves in the last two years or so. Since January 2019, Babar has scored 440 runs in 12 T20I innings averaging a strong 44 which includes 5 scores of 50+.
Captaincy also seems to be sitting nicely with Babar. In 5 innings as captain, Babar has scored 181 runs averaging 60.33. Babar has shown terrific consistency over the last few years and Pakistan will want him to continue his run come Friday.
Our Criclytics Player Projection says Babar will score 17-40 runs against England in the first T20I.
A T20 globe-trotter, Chris Jordan has played with and against a lot of the Pakistan players and the familiarity might help him in the series. Jordan has also been in excellent form in the last 2 years. England’s leading wicket-taker since 2019 in the format, the pacer has taken 18 wickets in 11 T20Is during the time period at an impressive strike rate of 11.6. Jordan generally bowls in the death and while he might go for a few runs, he also has the chance to pick up wickets, which means more fantasy points.
The Criclytics Player Projection has Jordan picking 0-3 wickets in Manchester on Friday.
Having retired from the Test circuit in a bid to concentrate on white-ball cricket, Mohammad Amir has shown impressive form in recent times. In 51 T20 innings since the start of 2019, Amir has returned 68 wickets with an excellent strike rate of 16.9. He has also been pretty productive for Pakistan over the last two years in the 20-over format. Amir will take the new ball and if he can get it to swing early, watch out England!
Our Criclytics Player Projection says Amir will pick 0-3 wickets against England.