The Stage Is Set for the Decider as Both Teams Eye Glory
The historic tour of England to Pakistan, after 17 long years, is nearing an end. All good things come to an end, and so will this crunch series on Sunday. Both teams will be eager to emerge victorious as the series win can serve as a morale booster for the upcoming mega event.
Pakistan fans must have taken a huge sigh of relief as their middle order finally showed some resilience to help Pakistan post a decent total. Another massive plus was their skipper’s brilliantly crafted 87* runs innings. Babar’s return to form and decent contribution from their middle order will allow them to play the series finale with renewed confidence.
However, the hammering of inexperienced pacers may have opened a few chinks in Pakistan’s armor. Without their 3 premier quicks (Shaheen, Naseem, and Rauf), the bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Salt and co. So, it may trigger some changes in the playing XI for the last game.
Talking about England and their batting approach, it’s either a dasher or a collapse. It was certainly the latter on Friday as they made a mockery of Pakistan’s bowling lineup.
Also, their pacers started well and were brilliant in the middle phase of their bowling innings. So, the English team would be looking to ride the momentum wave and seal the series in Lahore.
A couple of aspects may concern them a little, though. Adil Rashid couldn’t make an impact in the last game, and Topley struggled again at the death. They will keep their faith in their first-choice spinner but may want to save better death bowlers towards the back end of the innings.
Weather and Conditions
There is once again going to be a lot of dew around in the 2nd innings. Also, the pitch is expected to play evenly for batting and bowling. Bearing these factors in mind, bowl first will likely be the winning captain’s preference.
Players To Keep An Eye On
Adil Rashid is England’s trump card bowler in white ball cricket. But, he has not been able to make any substantial contributions to his team in this series. With World Cup a couple of weeks away, he would love to have a fine outing to bolster his confidence.
Shan Masood was called to Pakistan’s T20I side to give a spine to their middle order. But, apart from a half-century in the 2nd T20I, he has been a complete failure in this series. He needs to get back to form before it’s too late for him and Pakistan.
Key Match Ups
Salt vs. Nawaz
The last few games have been a see-saw battle between the two. M. Nawaz will look to outsmart the hard-hitting opener early to avoid a recap of his heroics in the last game.
Iftikhar vs. Rashid
In the 6th T20I, Iftikhar’s assault on Rashid may have dented the leggie’s confidence. However, Rash has both the ability and experience to make a strong comeback in the next game against Iftikhar.
Mark Wood may get another go in the last match of the series. Dawson can also find a place in the side ahead of Curran.
Probable XI: Philip Salt (wk), Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Ben Duckett, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali (c), Liam Dawson, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Reece Topley/Richard Gleeson
After Shaheen’s absence, Naseem is also out of the series due to being diagnosed with pneumonia and Covid. It could mean a return to the playing XI for Haris Rauf after being rested for just one game.
In addition, Haider Ali was admitted to the hospital after Friday’s game, so there are doubts about his participation as well. Moreover, Rizwan will sneak back into the team for the decider.
Probable XI: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haider Ali /Mohammad Haris, Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Aamer Jamal, Mohammad Wasim Jr/Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Rauf
What They Said?
“I don’t think there was any rethinking approach. We know what we do well as a team and what kind of template we need. I think it was just about being smarter and choosing those high percentage options more often.”
Phil Salt says England will keep backing their go-hard at the top approach.
“I think they just attacked us. They came out attacking and tried to hit a boundary every ball. We didn’t do a lot wrong; it was just great batting. Sometimes, you have got to give it to the batting team.”
Shaun Tait credits England for their ruthless approach in the 6th T20I.