Pakistan lost the second ODI versus England by 95 runs at Abu Dhabi which meant that the series is now leveled at 1-1. The men in green need to raise their game for the third ODI because they were below par in most departments of the game.
Eoin Morgan won the toss once again and as expected decided to bat first. The openers took on the Pakistan bowlers from the beginning and did not allow them the chance to settle down and dictate terms. A 100 plus stand for the first wicket convincingly put Pakistan on the back foot.
Pakistan’s fielding was not at its best today as they dropped few catches and missed some straight forward run outs in the field. It is a popular saying that catches win matches but it was evident that Pakistan did not pay heed to that.
Yasir Shah was attacked by the English batsmen which turned out to be the right ploy as the leg spinner went for 70 runs off his 9 overs, He was particularly kept under severe pressure by the century maker Alex Hales as the opener showed his team mates how to tackle Yasir in these conditions.
Wahab and co bowled really nicely to restrict England to under 300 as the English team scored just 56 runs in the last 10 overs of the innings but a total of 250 was always going to pose a problem for the Pakistan side.
Pakistan went about the chase in a precarious fashion and consequently lost 2 wickets inside the first 10 overs without something substantial on the board. Babar Azam who played so well in the middle order, in the first ODI, was made to open the innings and that did not work in Pakistan’s favor. Pakistan need to slot in a proper opener in the team or make Hafeez bat at the top so that the early moving ball can be tackled properly. The make shift openers find it difficult to play in such conditions and seeing Babar Azam perform well in the middle order there was no need to make him open.
The middle looked fragile and panicked in the run chase and at no time there was any momentum in the Pakistan innings. Iftikhar Ahmed, who was making his debut, struggled to come to terms as he made 5 runs off 21 balls and was dismissed playing a rather poor shot. I had mentioned in my preview that this was not the game to try out Iftikhar and unfortunately that turned out to be true.
Pakistan no longer have the services of Younis Khan or Misbah-ul-Haq who usually provide the stability to the middle order and which makes the role of Shoaib Malik that much important as he now needs to play that sheet anchor role during overs 15-40.
Although Sarfraz tried to resist but he could not have achieved such a daunting task all on his own but he played a pretty decent innings of 64 runs and ensured that Pakistan were not rolled over inside 150 runs. Pakistan could also make Sarfraz open the innings as he has done that before if they don’t to make any other change for the third ODI.
Come the third ODI Pakistan need to rectify all these points and match England next time these two side face each other at Sharjah on the 17th of November.