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Rejuvenated England eyes unbeatable lead

Sweating over fitness of Yasir Shah, Pakistan needs to sort out batting frailties

Rejuvenated England eyes unbeatable lead - Cricket News
Having secured a crucial win, England is likely to go in with the same squad.
England bounced back superbly in the second One-Day International and will aim to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series against Pakistan on Tuesday (November 17) at the Sharjah International Stadium. 

Pakistan has had a good run in ODI cricket, having beaten Zimbabwe (2-0), Sri Lanka (3-2) and Zimbabwe again (2-1) ahead of this series, but was let down by its batsmen in the second game, where it succumbed to a 95-run defeat. 

After the Pakistan bowlers did well to restrict England to 216 in the first game, Mohammed Hafeez’s ton overshadowed the fragility of the batting line-up. The host was reduced to 41 for 3 but Hafeez (102 not out) and Babar Azam (62 not out) collaborated for an unbeaten 106-run stand for the fifth wicket to take the team over the finish line. 

Learning from their mistakes, the England bowlers did not allow the Pakistan batsmen to settle down in the second game and bundled them out for just 188. Much to the delight of the English fans, this was after the batting had also come good with Alex Hales leading the way with a 117-ball 109. Jason Roy and Joe Root too played promising innings and with momentum on England’s side, Pakistan will have a tough task as it seeks to take lead in the series. 

Having secured a crucial win, England is likely to go in with the same squad.  One thing that will trouble the Pakistan think-tank is the fitness of Yasir Shah. The legspinner has been struggling with a knee injury and will undergo a fitness test ahead of the game. If Yasir is ruled out, Pakistan can turn to Bilal Asif, the offspinner, or Zafar Gohar, the uncapped left-arm orthodox spinner. 

Waqar Younis admitted that Pakistan wasn’t expecting England to bounce back in such fashion. “England bounced back and bounced back well, we probably were not thinking that they are going to play that well so we have to play out of our skins to make it 2-1,” he said ahead of the game. “Obviously we were expecting a fightback from England but we also played poor cricket in that game. We were not up to the mark in batting; at no time were we in the game, we must make sure it doesn't happen next time.”

Pakistan will again look to target England’s spin duo of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, who struggled in the first game and returned combined figures of 1 for 104 from 19 overs. Though they gave away just 82 runs in the second game from their 20 overs, they picked up only one wicket as the pacers did most of the damage. 

Pakistan and England have played five ODIs in Sharjah with England winning three of them. However, the last time these two sides met here was in 1999 and it’s unlikely that the teams will be bothered by past records. 

The last time England played in the United Arab Emirates, it went on to win the series 4-0 and it surely wouldn't want to leave empty-handed after the Test series loss. The four-match series will be followed by a three-match Twenty20 International series. 

Teams (from):
Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett.

Pakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Bilal Asif, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Amir Yamin, Anwer Ali, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan.

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