We have had over 10 competitive T20 Cricket matches washed out due to the weather in England so far this summer. 9 out of the 14 T20 Blast matches have fallen prey to rain. More than winning the game tonight, both Pakistan and England would want to have a complete T20 match in order to kick off their preparations for the T20 World Cup next year.
The fact that the England middle-order fell tamely to the spinners in the unconcluded first game will be a matter of concern for Eoin Morgan and his men in terms of the quality of depth in the squad, given the fact that the next year’s T20 World Cup will be held in the subcontinent. The one major positive they derived from the game was Tom Banton’s display of stroke play.
After negotiating the threat posed by left-arm spinner Imad Wasim who claimed Bairstow in the first over, and speedsters Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Amir in the powerplay overs along with Dawid Malan, Banton came onto his own from the 10th over, launching into a tirade of scoops, swats, and slog-sweeps against the Pakistan bowlers, especially being severe on Shadab Khan.
Malan, who provided ample support to Banton throughout his innings, struggled with his timing throughout his span of stay at the crease. Morgan, too, got off to a sweep happy start, but then played one sweep too many, as he was dismissed by Iftikhar Ahmed’s off-break trying to play the shot to a delivery that was too full in nature.
Although England’s middle-order did not fare well against Pakistan’s spinners, the England camp need not require sweating too much about it due to the fact that their best players of spin, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, who are very much likely to make it to the squad for the T20 World Cup in India next year, have not been played in this series. That gives all the more reason for the likes of Malan, Sam Billings and Moeen Ali to perform well, in order to seal a spot in the first XI.
Despite being on the receiving end of the Tom Banton onslaught which spoilt their bowling figures to an extent, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan did perform well against the other batsmen. Imad, who bowls at an economy rate for under 6 an over in T20I Cricket, which played an integral role in Pakistan reaching number one in T20I Cricket, went for only 11 runs in his first two overs, bowled in the powerplay, along with taking the wicket of Jonny Bairstow.
Shadab had a much more contrasting start to his bowling spell on Friday, going for 26 off his first two before coming back strongly, conceding only 7 runs in his next two, taking two wickets in the process, including the vital breakthrough of Tom Banton.
Team News – England
With the England bowlers not being tested at all in the first game, and the fact that England have stuck with their initially picked batting order throughout a series in the past, it is very much unlikely that they would make any changes to their XI. One can talk about replacing Lewis Gregory for David Willey, but Gregory’s potential as a pacer remains untested so far in this series.
Tom Banton, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, Lewis Gregory, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood
Team News – Pakistan
Similar to England’s bowling, Pakistan’s batting line-up has gone untested in the first game, which might suggest a similar top-order for the second game, bolstered with the experience of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. The Pakistan team management, though, chose youth over experience for the bowling attack, opting for Haris Rauf over Wahab Riaz, a move which did not go according to plan as Haris finished as the most economically expensive bowler for Pakistan without completing his quota of four overs. On the other hand, having a right arm pacer would add variation to their bowling arsenal, which already has two left-arm seamers.
Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, Lancashire
Clear skies are expected throughout the game, much to the delight of Cricket fans and both teams. The same surface will be used for today, which would possess an identical challenge to the first game for the England batsmen. Given the history of the ground, both teams would want to chase over defend.