Pakistan Strive for Batting Stability as England Look to Extend their Lead
The English team is known for their free-flowing batting style, which was truly on display in the 3rd T20I. Their top order hasn’t been in great nick, but the middle order is breathing fire. Ben Duckett, Harry Brook, and Moeen Ali are in red-hot form and will be crucial again for England.
In contrast, the Pakistani middle order looks more and more vulnerable after every passing game. Haider is still trying to find his feet at this level, while Iftikhar and Khushdil are running out of chances. Nawaz is also struggling in the middle overs, and Shadab has been rested. However, these are the best possible options for Pakistan, and they will continue to bank on them.
England’s team, on the other hand, is looking well-settled. The return of Mark Wood and the inclusion of Reece Topley have added spine to their pace bowling. Rashid and Dawson are also in a good rhythm. So, England is a well-balanced and dangerous side at the moment.
On the other hand, Pakistan is playing without their premier fast bowler – Shaheen Shah Afridi. Naseem Shah is also getting some rest, and Haris Rauf has been taking all the burden in this series. Usman Qadir is struggling to offer control and is bowling too many freebies.
So, Pakistan need to play out of their skin to level the series with the favourites – England.
In the Spotlight
Shan Masood scored a rapid half-century in the 3rd T20I. His inning was the only talking point of the game for Pakistani fans in the last game. He has been performing extremely well in T20 leagues across the globe and is rated quite highly in Pakistan.
The fans would love to see him score more runs in this series, as he is crucial for the survival of Pakistan’s middle order. If either of the openers falls early, he will be asked to anchor the innings and bat deep.
Phil Salt is a tremendous striker of the cricket ball and has played some top-notch knocks in T20 cricket. However, he is not having a great tour so far. He hasn’t been able to exhibit his talent of dominating the bowlers in Powerplay.
As the T20 World Cup is less than a month away, this tour holds a significant value for Salt. When Jos Butler returns to the team as an opener, England will have to choose between Hales and Salt as the 2nd opener.
With his superb form and vast experience, Alex Hales is the favourite contender for that position. So, Salt needs to do something spectacular in the next few games to go ahead of Hales.
Conditions and Weather
The temperature for the last game of the Karachi leg of the series is expected to stay around 28°C. As in previous games, the humidity will be very high (close to 80%).
Whereas, the pitch is expected to be similar to the last 2 games. The average score batting 1st in T20Is on this ground is 191. So, the team batting first will be looking for a score above 200.
Naseem Shah has not played the last couple of games, and he might return for the 4th T20I. Whereas, Haris Rauf has played all the 3 games so far, so he might be rested.
Probable XI: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Haider Ali, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Qadir, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Shahnawaz Dahani.
England have been trying different combinations and players. So, it’s hard to guess who comes in and who sits out. Anyhow, Olly Stone might make his T20I debut on Sunday.
Probable XI: Will Jacks, Philip Salt (wk), Dawid Malan, Ben Duckett, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali (c), Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Olly Stone, Reece Topley.
What They Said
“I like Pakistan. Obviously, I had a bit of success in the PSL, so it feels like I’m almost home here. It’s been good, and I enjoyed batting out there, ducky (Duckett) as well, so yeah, it was good fun.”
Harry Brook feels that the experience in PSL is helping him and Ben Duckket dominate in these conditions.
“The Chief Selector has selected the best available guys in the squad. We should keep faith in them. The repeated discussions of middle order weakness can put unnecessary pressure on players.”
Pakistani head coach Saqlain Mushtaq thinks fans should support Pakistan’s middle order rather than criticising it.