Their defeat in the second one-day international to England extended Pakistan’s win-less streak, but there were positive signs from which they will look to draw confidence heading into the third match today.
Pakistan’s ODI record in 2019 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 win-less in their last eight games, including a washout in the first ODI of the ongoing series.
With the World Cup 2019 pretty much at the doorstep, Pakistan has 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 side placed No.1 on the ICC Men’s ODI team rankings.
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 honors 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.
From the little evidence so far, the attack looks further threatening when Jofra Archer plays, and it will be interesting to see whether they bring him back in for the third ODI after resting him for the second.
His potential World Cup call-up hinges on how he performs in this series after all.
The second ODI hero Buttler will be the key to England’s prospects of winning the series with his massive hitting power just like he did in the previous game.
However, from Pakistan’s point of view Hasan Ali must perform as he has been key wicket taking bowler, if Pakistan to restrict England below 300 he must find rhythm.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali