Series Win the Mission As Pakistan’s Hunt For Middle Order Solutions Continues
Pakistani bowlers again held their nerves to secure a tight win over England in the 5th match. The caravans moved to Lahore from Karachi, but not much changed for the Pakistan Cricket team and their supporters.
Babar’s struggle to regain his consistency continued, and the middle order’s deficiencies were exposed again. M. Rizwan proved to be the lone warrior once again for Pakistan. None of his fellow batters has shown any signs of form and consistency in the 5 games so far. But who will fill the void of a solid middle-order batsman for Pakistan?
One guy who certainly has that ability is Shadab Khan. He averages 36.75 and strikes at 142.71 vs spin in PSL. He is also a fine player of short-pitch bowling as he has great command over cut and pull shots. So, it’s certainly the time for Pakistan to launch Shadab Khan – the batsman – in the middle overs.
Whereas the bowling lineup is a complete contrast as almost every guy is contributing to the team’s wins. Shadab showed no signs of lack of match practice on his return, and Nawaz struck yet again in the opening over of the innings. Iftikhar shined in the middle overs against a glut of left-handers.
Moreover, all the pacers have looked in great touch and have provided crucial breakthroughs. The debutant Aamer bowled a superb final over to deny Moeen and England a victory.
So, all eyes will be on their middle order as time runs fast for Pakistan before the World Cup.
In comparison, the English top order is unable to provide them with a solid base. Moeen, Brook, and Duckett have almost always stepped up to keep their team alive in the game. However, a positive sign for them was Malan scoring some crucial runs in the powerplay. But, their openers have to make a difference before it’s too late.
Like Pakistan, England also don’t have any worries about their bowling. All the bowlers are executing their plans and utilising the conditions well. Mark Wood is troubling the batters with his pace, and other bowlers are using their variations to a great effect.
Weather and Playing Conditions
There are no signs of rain during the match. The weather is going to be warm, so the pitch will break down. Therefore, the spinners will be the key in the middle overs, and we are in for another low-scoring thriller.
Players To Keep An Eye On
David Malan hasn’t been in great nick for over a year now. He also had an ordinary T20 World Cup last year. His 35 runs in the last game are a huge positive for England. Considering that he is going to be England’s #3 in the upcoming World Cup as well, he needs to keep playing that way to add substance to the English top order.
Haider Ali is rated as the most gifted young batsman in Pakistan. However, he has failed miserably so far in this series. He needs to cash in these opportunities if he has to become a regular feature in the Pakistan side.
Rashid vs Shan
Shan Masood is known for playing spin well but has struggled against Adil Rashid in this series. In the next game, he will try to dominate the leggie to get going in the middle phase of the innings.
Shadab vs Brook
Brook has been truly sensational on this tour but was found in no man’s land against Shadab’s variations. The latter’s accuracy and ability to spin the ball both ways can trouble the youngster in the upcoming T20I as well.
We can expect England to keep tinkering with their bowlers. Hence, Topley and Dawson may return to the team.
Probable XI: Philip Salt (wk), Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Ben Duckett, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali (c), Liam Dawson, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, David Willey/Reece Topley
Rizwan couldn’t keep wickets in the 2nd innings due to his fitness concerns. If he is not ready for the next game, Pakistan will give a go to Mohammad Haris. Otherwise, no changes are expected.
Probable XI: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan/ Mohammad Haris(wk), Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Aamer Jamal, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Haris Rauf
What They Said?
“Shadab, the way he came back, the way he started was nice to see especially after an injury. To win T20Is, you need wickets and in the middle overs, Shadab produced that. These things build up the team and give us confidence.”
Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam was delighted with the return of Shadab Khan.
“Today, all we needed was one partnership, a 60 or 70 run partnership and we would have won the game. It was the most disappointing performance with the bat for sure.”
In the post-match press conference, Moeen Ali expressed his frustration at another ordinary display of batting by his team.