England have one more game of international cricket, Wednesday’s (September 7) one-off Twenty20 International (T20I) against Pakistan at Old Trafford before they can throw their feet up and reflect on what has largely been a fruitful summer of cricket. Plans for the winter tours of Bangladesh and India are already in an advanced stage with the team scheduled for their sub-continental sojourn in little over two weeks from now. A defeat in the T20I will do little to disparage their ever-rising limited-overs stocks but victory would certainly serve as the cherry on top of the scrumptious cake for the English cricket patrons before Premier League football dominates their households after the international break.
Eoin Morgan remains undecided on his participation in the Bangladesh tour but is steadfast in his desire for his shorter format team to go from strength to strength. Having squandered a rare opportunity to inflict an One Day International (ODI) series whitewash on Pakistan in Cardiff last week, the England skipper is eager to close out the season with a win in the lone T20I. It is this new-found allegiance towards white-ball cricket and the possibility of potentially dominating the format, that’s forced selectors into naming a full-strength squad for what is, in the bigger picture, a relatively insignificant game.
Pakistan, on the other hand, find that been on the road in the unfamiliar climes of the British summer for a little over two months now. Their herculean efforts to draw the Test series came up with a price for they folded rather meekly in the ensuing five-match ODI series. But even in the last leg of an emotionally-draining campaign lies an opportunity for new beginnings. Sarfraz Ahmed takes over as captain of the T20I side, hoping to impress his own adventurism and propensity for daredevilry. The team though, still retains the crux of the outfit that turned out under Shahid Afridi for the World T20. Pakistan are the top-ranked Test team. Their push up the T20I rankings starts now.
When: England vs Pakistan, Only T20I on September 7 at 11:00 PM IST (06:30 PM local)
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
What to expect: A pleasant Manchester evening. Only a 2% chance of rain. Perfect conditions for more runs.
England:All-rounder Ben Stokes, who has had an injury-riddled season, is in line to play his first T20I since his infamous final over to Carlos Brathwaite at Eden Gardens in April. Also returning to the T20I side will be the troika of Moeen Ali, Joe Root and Alex Hales, all of whom were rested for the T20I against Sri Lanka ahead of the Pakistan series. Moeen’s return, and the presence of Adil Rashid, forced the selectors to leave Liam Dawson out of the side. Dawson, who took 3 for 27 on debut against Sri Lanka, endured a contrasting start to his ODI career last week, conceding 70 runs from his eight overs. In Mark Wood, left-arm pacer Tymal Mills and Liam Plunkett, England have three bowlers who can consistently hit the 140kmph mark and hustle opponents out.
Pakistan:Even without Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz has a squad full of spinning all-rounders at his disposal. On the drier surfaces in UAE and in the sub-continent, Pakistan’s bowling resources appear balanced but at the fag end of the England summer, a tiring Pakistan attack could stand to get exposed. Following Mohammad Irfan’s injury, the visitors may also want to blood young seamer Amad Butt while the returning Sohail Tanvir makes a valid case for himself with his performances in the Caribbean Premier League.
Did you know:
– Sarfraz Ahmed will become the first wicketkeeper to lead Pakistan in a T20I. He had lead them once before in an ODI against Zimbabwe in Harare last year.
– Khalid Latif has scored more than 13 only once in his nine T20I outings. He scored 46 against Australia in Mohali in his last game for Pakistan.
– Three out of the six T20Is scheduled at Old Trafford has either been abandoned or washed out.
– If selected, Jos Buttler will become the fourth England player to appear in 50 T20Is after Eoin Morgan (63), Stuart Broad (56) and Luke Wright (51).
What they said:
“It is excellent to see the progress we are making in white ball cricket across both formats. The T20 international against Pakistan will give the squad another opportunity to measure their development.”
– James Whitaker, England’s national selector, will keep a close eye on the one-off T20I fixture at Old Trafford.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Mark Wood
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c&wk), Khalid Latif, Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Amad Butt