BRISTOL: Defeat in the second One-day International to England extended Pakistan’s winless streak, but there were positive signs from which they will look to draw confidence heading into the third match on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s ODI record this year has been poor so far. In 12 matches across three series, they have won only two and have lost nine. More worryingly, they’ve been winless in their last eight games, including a washout in the first ODI of the ongoing series.
With the World Cup pretty much at the doorstep, Pakistan have plenty of reason for concern. But things may not be as gloomy as the numbers suggest, for they put up a remarkable fight in the second ODI in Southampton, going down by only 12 runs in a chase of a mammoth 374 against some pretty good bowling.
One of big question marks over Pakistan’s readiness for the World Cup has pertained to their ability to score rapidly, but they seemed to do rather well in that department, thanks largely to Fakhar Zaman’s boundary-laced 138. But even Asif Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed scored at well over run-a-ball.
The positive signs notwithstanding, Pakistan will want to pull together in all departments to get some wins under their belt ahead of 30 May, when the World Cup gets underway.
Their job won’t be easy, however, seeing as they’re facing the world’s top-ranked side. England are a mighty batting unit, with various batsmen capable of stealing the show on any given day. It was Jos Buttler who did the honours in the previous game with an unbeaten 55-ball 110.
The hosts’ bowling attack looks robust too, and they will be very pleased with David Willey’s three-over spell in the death in Southampton, during which he took 2/17 including the big wickets of Asif Ali and Imad Wasim.
Both teams are expected to ring in the changes with Joe Denly set to play in place of the resting Adil Rashid for England, making this match an audition of sorts for Denly to prove his worth as a back-up leg-spin option.
Tom Curran will have an outing in place of David Willey and Buttler could well be rested after his jaw-dropping display at the Ageas Bowl, while Adil and Jofra Archer did not travel to Bristol after being given some time off.
Pakistan will be forced into one change of plan after the viral illness which kept Mohammad Amir out of the match in Southampton now thought to be chicken pox, scuppering any hopes they had of bringing him back.