Pakistan may be concerned about fast bowling, but England is willing to keep experimenting

Sep 26, 2022

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Naseem Shah is anticipated to return for the hosts; Mark Wood is likely to be replaced by Tom Helm or Olly Stone.

Master Plan

The first guideline of achieving this is admitting that it is tough to express the overall picture in words that age well in a seven-match T20I series due to its shape shifting nature.

After all, England has a seemingly endless supply of explosive T20 players, and as the series demonstrated with Harry Brook and Will Jacks, who made their debuts on Friday, they haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. The most reliable opening duo in the world plays for Pakistan, who will be playing their 200th T20I, and a middle order that has so far failed to realize its enormous potential. This is common knowledge. Because that’s what you get with Pakistan and England, we knew it three games ago, and we know that some mix of these occurrences will continue to characterize the final four games of this series. For us to realize that, it didn’t take three T20 Internationals on the best batting surface in the world.

However, this does not imply that there is no benefit to be had from the abundance of games. The conversations around Pakistan’s top and middle order continue to be intense and annoying in their repetition, but they have spared the bowlers the criticism they deserve after two particularly mediocre outings.

Usman Qadir completely failed to take the possibilities that have been presented to him, therefore Shadab Khan’s return to fitness cannot come soon enough. England hadn’t struck a six in the first half of the innings until Qadir placed a half-volley directly in the new batter Brook’s striking arc and found himself dismissed over his head. This fact might have been forgotten in the flurry of boundaries that followed.

Match-up bowling has been hard to find, and the seamers have also frequently failed to find their lines and lengths at critical moments in overs. Despite Brook’s prodigious skill on the pull and behind the wicket, the short-ball at pace was still used, and his rigidity with the bowlers’ lines regularly allowed him to back away and give up cover, where deep protection was frequently lacking. The fielding hasn’t helped either, and in the fierce cultural conflict surrounding batting intent, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the simplest approach to reduce the need for severe risk-taking is to ensure you don’t need to chase down more than is absolutely required.

There are issues in England as well, but they are very different. They have been the team more willing to take these contests as tests, experimenting with both the batting and bowling, and even choosing to set a total in one contest—a modern T20 sin. Ben Duckett, Brook, and Jacks have all had strong series debuts, and Alex Hales has excelled in his return to England. Adil Rashid is the most useful spinner from either side because he consistently lands them with near metronomic precision. And if you thought Luke Wood was a shot in England’s arm, it’s hard to comprehend what Mark Wood did on Friday after returning from injury, when he recorded a top speed of more than 97 mph. With all of this, England has little to gripe about on this leg of the tour.

Highlight

Do not expect to be credited as a bowler when the opposition racks up enormous scores for fun. In particular one who doesn’t get many wickets. Despite this, Mohammad Nawaz is perhaps Pakistan’s finest T20 bowler, having given up 94 in three games for just one wicket. He performs a kind of selfless position as a left-arm spinner, relying entirely on pace and line variations. Although he lacks the capacity to have a huge impact, it’s strange how frequently Nawaz’s debut corresponds with a minor slowdown in the pace of an England innings. Additionally, he hasn’t shied away from taking on a few overs during the powerplay. Against an England team that has amassed 580 runs in fewer than 60 overs, Nawaz has managed to give up just 7.83 runs in his dozen.

Dawid Malan can stand out in an England batting lineup that is so stacked with natural power hitters. The big-hitting that comes so naturally to his team-mates is definitely not his forte in the same way, despite the fact that he was recently named as the top T20I player. It has been a difficult start to the series for him despite his impressive performance as opener in the Hundred, as his propensity for starting slowly has given Pakistan’s bowlers much-needed relief. The low, slow conditions haven’t helped, and they won’t, of course, be a characteristic of Australian surfaces for the next T20 World Cup. But Malan might feel it’s time to prove why he belongs in this brilliant batting line-up given that his teammates are hammering sixes for pleasure.

Team Update

As Pakistan seeks to tie the series, Naseem Shah may make a comeback, and the hosts may rearrange their middle order in an effort to find their strongest lineup. If Shadab is available, he would replace Qadir right away. It is anticipated that he will join the team at some point.

For the fourth T20I, England is likely to make a few changes despite not practicing on Saturday. After his dramatic outburst on Friday, Mark Wood will probably take a break. Tom Helm or Olly Stone are the most likely successors. Despite Jacks’ outstanding debut, Hales might also come back. Sam Curran might be replaced by David Willey if he takes a break.

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