Pakistan’s white-ball tour of England will start today at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff where Green Shirts will meet World Champions in the first ODI of the series.
The build-up of the series turned into chaos after seven members of England’s first-choice squad tested positive for COVID-19. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) handled the situation immensely well and announced a new squad for the series.
All-rounder Ben Stokes will lead the 18-member squad with nine uncapped players waiting to grab the opportunity.
Pakistan has had a rough build-up to the series with rain following it around. They stayed in Derby for 10 days where they trained for seven days. Due to rain, they had to practice indoors mostly and only played one practice match.
Green Shirts will step on the field with one aim in mind, which is to take the top spot in ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. England is leading with 65 points from 12 matches while Pakistan is at third with 40 points. A win in all three-matches will take them to the top of the ladder.
Pakistan will have the advantage after the entire first-choice England eleven has been ruled out of the series but what if they lose, the pundits and fans may not tolerate.
Pakistan will highly depend on their top three, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and the world’s number one batter, Babar Azam.
They played a vital role in Pakistan’s win in South Africa in April as they scored the bulk of runs during the three-match series. Mohammad Rizwan will ideally bat at number four
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see Haris Sohail’s replacement, who ruled out of the series due to a hamstring injury. Pakistan have two spots unfilled with four potential players (Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Agha Salman, Sohaib Maqsood).
Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan will take the all-rounder spots at seven and eight while Shaheen Shah, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf forming the pace-attack.
England’s new squad has nine uncapped players and few will play an international match after a gap. Stokes will have Dawid Malan in his ranks as the experienced one at this level but the management will have to work hard to field the right combination.
Pakistan cannot take England lightly as most of them were playing in the T20 Blast and are ready to go. It is difficult to know exactly what the playing eleven will be but we can make a few educated guesses.
The top-order might look as Will Jacks and Phil Salt opening the batting while Malan may bat at number three.
James Vince, Ben Stokes and Dan Lawrence could be the other three batsmen in the team with Ben Duckett taking the wicketkeeping role.
Lewis Gregory may play as a second all-rounder beside Stokes and bat at number eight. Saqib Mehmood, Tom Helm, Matthew Parkinson may fill up the remaining spots.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (C), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail (ruled out), Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Qadir
England: Ben Stokes (C), Dawid Malan, David Payne, John Simpson, Jake Ball, Danny Briggs, Brydon Carse, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Lewis Gregory, Tom Helm, Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matt Parkinson, Phil Salt, James Vince.