England and Pakistan played out a draw in the third Test at the Ageas Bowl, although the home side emerged from the series with a 1-0 victory. The Three Lions dominated with the bat and were thwarted by the elements in their attempt to press home a second win.The two sides now turn their attention to the shortest format of the game, which will see England change their squad completely as Eoin Morgan and company take the reins. Meanwhile, Pakistan will draft in their limited-overs players that were brought on the tour to rotate their options. Babar Azam takes over the captaincy from Azhar Ali, while there will also be an influx of experience.
It has been a long time since the two sides were last in T20 action, with the Green Army last playing a contest in January. England saw off South Africa in their last action in a thrilling series in February therefore there should be an element of rust from both teams.
Morgan will be keen for his team to bounce back from the last time he was out on the field, suffering an ODI defeat at the hands of Ireland. The Green Army will want to leave their tour on a high note and there will be pressure on Azam to deliver where Azhar Ali failed. The coronavirus pandemic has given teams further time to prepare for the next T20 World Cup. Both of these teams will be interested to know how they measure up against one another.
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England have a lot of talent available in the county game, but they’ve opted for the safe approach as they did with their ODI squad. Morgan and the selectors prefer experience in the ranks rather than blooding new talent all at once. Joe Denly is recalled to the team after missing the ODIs due to injury, while Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan are also welcomed back into the fold.
All three players are over the age of 30, while the players that are unavailable due to their Test exploits are also in their late twenties.
The Three Lions are taking the safe approach as outside of Tom Banton and Saqib Mahmood there is an absence of young players in the squad. Pat Brown is on the fringe of the team and spinner Matthew Parkinson is injured, but there is no space in the squad for Tom Kohler-Cadmore or Philip Salt in the batting ranks. England seem content to take the current crop of players into the T20 World Cup next year and perhaps blood their new talent after the tournament.
However, it seems as though they’re passing up an opportunity to test their ability against quality opposition on home soil without the pressure of the crowd. The selected players do have proven quality, having beaten South Africa on the road. Morgan’s men have won their last five T20I series on the bounce and have only been beaten by India over the last two years. Greater challenges are coming next month against Australia and Morgan will want his side to begin an important period of fixtures with a win.
Pakistan produced a spirited fightback against England in the final Test, fending off the home side’s attempt to close out a 2-0 win. Azam scored a half-century in the second innings to prove his quality in the middle and he will now take over the captaincy for the T20Is.
The Green Army had won 11 series on the bounce until last year. Since then their form has declined dramatically, winning only one out of their last five series. Their triumph came against Bangladesh last time out, easing past the Tigers by a 2-0 margin. Pakistan like England have opted for experience in their line-up.
Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez come into the side to shore up the batting ranks. Mohammad Amir will lead the attack after opting to end his Test career. He will be well rested and eager to prove a point against the Three Lions. Wahab Riaz and Haris Rauf may also get the opportunity to start, while Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi may be rested after their exploits at the Ageas Bowl. Shadab Khan will take over the spinner’s duties alongside Malik, handing Pakistan a potent bowling line-up to challenge the home side.
Pakistan are a mercurial side but can beat anyone on their day. They have the right blend of experience and youth, although they’re facing a team who are relentless against the white ball. Azam and his men will be tested in their ability to put runs on the board.
The forecast for Friday at Old Trafford is not encouraging for the morning and afternoon, which could put the game in jeopardy depending on the amount of rainfall. The rain is expected to clear by the evening in time for the start of the contest. Whether the ground will have had enough time to dry by then remains to be seen. Fingers crossed the forecast is incorrect and we get a full game played in Manchester.
It promises to be a close contest between the sides, although England edged the last duel in 2019 by seven wickets. On that occasion it was also a much-changed side, who had the nous when it mattered the most to get over the line. Expect a similar game at Old Trafford and for Morgan and Adil Rashid to play key roles, although Azam will also loom large for the Green Army.
England to beat Pakistan 1st T20I – 1.57 Betway