Pakistan will hope its batsmen lead the way, while the visiting side will take heart from how well a young side did in the first match
England is on roll in the limited overs format at present. After winning the four-match One-Day International series against Pakistan by a 3-1 margin, the side pulled ahead in the first Twenty20 International of a three-match series with a 14-run win in Dubai on Thursday.
That was England’s fourth consecutive T20I win, and it will now have a chance to seal the series when the two sides meet again in the second T20I at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday (November 27).
England had decided to rest Jos Buttler and Joe Root in the first game, but didn’t feel their absence, as Sam Billings smashed 53 off just 25 balls to drive England to 160 for 5. Billings didn’t just play a crucial role with the bat, he was excellent behind the stumps with the gloves too.
What will also please the England think-tank most was the way the spin duo of Moeen Ali and Stephen Parry troubled the Pakistan batsmen. Parry, the left-arm spinner, varied his pace beautifully and had two wickets for 21 runs before he was hit for two sixes in his last over. Liam Plunkett, on his first game on tour, bowled with pace, returning 3 for 21 in a fiery spell that hastened Pakistan’s collapse, before the home side ended up at 146 in 20 overs. The fact that the bowling unit clicked together should give England a lot of confidence going into the game.
James Vince (41), the Hampshire batsman, was very impressive on debut. England was three down for 19 runs in the fourth over when he collaborated with Eoin Morgan for a 76-run stand.
For both sides, this series marks an opportunity to try out combinations ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 2016 in India in March-April, as they begin preparations for the world event.
For Pakistan, the immediate objective will be to win so that the series is kept alive, and on the batting front, Shahid Afridi’s men will look for a much-improved performance. There is still an injury cloud over Shoaib Malik, who missed the first T20I, and Afridi said Malik was only a 50-50 chance for the next game.
The top order failure meant Pakistan found itself 75 for 7 at one stage.
The fact that the side got close to England’s 160 for 5 was because of an aggressive 45-run stand between Wahab Riaz (21) and Sohail Tanvir (25 not out) for the ninth wicket, which gave Pakistan an outside chance and briefly raised the hopes of fans.
Pakistan will hope that Ahmed Shehzad, who also missed the first match due to illness, is fit to play. Alternately, it could ask Mohammad Hafeez to open the batting and draft in Aamer Yamin, the hard-hitting allrounder, for a debut to beef up the lower middle order.
The home side also needs to win the series to remain in second place on the ICC T20I rankings. However, if England can replicate its performance of the first match, spectators will be in for another pulsating contest.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt) Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Rafatullah Mohmand, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Anwar Ali, Bilal Asif, Imran Khan junior, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Aamer Yamin.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt,) Moeen Ali, Reece Topley, Jason Roy, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Jos Buttler (wk), David Willey, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Sam Billings (wk), Stephen Parry, Chris Jordan.