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Pumped-up England eyes clean sweep

Pakistan needs more from top-order batsmen after disappointing run in Twenty20 International series

Pumped-up England eyes clean sweep - Cricket News
England had done reasonably well to notch up 172 for 8 and then reduce Pakistan to 120 for 6 in the second game.
A Twenty20 International game can have many twists and turns, but it's ultimately about who holds his nerve. 
 
England has managed to do exactly that as it clinched the series against Pakistan in the UAE with a game to spare. But there was a lesson or two in that result which will serve it not only in the final game on Monday (November 30), but also the ICC World Twenty20 2016 in India.
 
England had done reasonably well to notch up 172 for 8 and then reduce Pakistan to 120 for 6 in the 17th over in the second game on Friday. The equation was 53 from 20 balls when the visitor ever so slightly took the foot off the pedal.
 


It's not the most prudent thing to ever assume, especially in the shortest format, that the game is ever done and dusted until it truly is. An eight-ball 24, vintage stuff from Shahid Afridi, and an overthrow that raced away to the boundary rope gave the crowd hope before England doused it, coming away with a three-run win.
 
“We didn’t play our best, we ­certainly weren’t as fluent as we would like, but we got up to a good score,” said Jos Buttler, captaining the side after Eoin Morgan opted to take a break. “Then we thought, we had already done the work with the ball, but Afridi came in and played as he can.”
 
While Pakistan has never been guilty of playing in a regimented manner, England seems to have embraced spontaneity wholeheartedly. There were three changes to the side aside from the Buttler-Morgan swap with Chris Woakes, David Willey and Joe Root coming in for Chris Jordan, Moeen Ali and Reece Topley. There was also a positional change, with Buttler taking over the gloves from Sam Billings, who had done the job in the first game.
 
Flexibility will be key if England is to add to its ICC World Twenty20 silverware next year, and the think-tank is clearly leaving no stone unturned to ensure that it is prepared for whatever is thrown at it. If it can now pull off a 3-0 scoreline to go along with its 3-1 victory in the One-Day Internationals, it will give be a great effort, especially after the critics were in full force after a 2-0 loss in Tests earlier this month.
 
Pakistan has quite a bit of work to do if it is to stop that from happening. It has looked sluggish on the field compared to its counterpart and hasn't managed to summon much individual brilliance either, save for Afridi, who also snared 3 for 15 in addition to his heroics with the bat on Friday.
 
The targets which England has set in the series have been stiff, but not insurmountable. Hundreds, of course, are more of a luxury in a 20-over game, but 10s and 20s, more often than not, aren't going to be sufficient to win games. 
 
The top-order batsmen, especially the likes of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, need to make a bigger impact than they have in this series and not leave too much to the lower order to do. After all, Afridi, though he may have seemed like a superhero minus the cape last time, can only do so much.
 
Teams (from):
 
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, Stephen Parry, Chris Jordan.