Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Pakistan v England | Monday 30 November | Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium | 18:00
A brilliant display of death bowling from Tim Woakes saw England claim the honours in the three-match T20 series with their second victory over Pakistan in the space of 24 hours. Pakistan will now look to salvage some pride when the teams face off in the final match of the series at the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium on Monday evening.
To Win Match
Is there any other team in world cricket who can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory quite like Pakistan? Having been set a daunting total of 170 runs to chase - mainly due to their opening bowlers leaking runs like a rusty cauldron- Pakistan finally got a batting innings off to a decent start.
By the conclusion of the fifth over, they were well placed to surpass the total on 51-1. Things looked even rosier by the midway point of their batting innings, with the men in green having passed the 80 run mark while only having lost three wickets.
There are no prizes for guessing what happened next. A spectacular collapse saw Pakistan lose three wickets and only put an extra 27 runs on the board. At this point, many cricket fans -myself included- thought Pakistan would fall well short of the total. Shahid Afradi, had other ideas, however. 'Boom, Boom,' was at his devastating best last Friday. The hard hitting right-hander came in and scored a rapid fire 24 which came off only 10 balls. It was to be in vain however as Anwar Ali and Sohail Tanvir failed to capitalise on the platform that Afridi had laid for them to bring the game home.
While the narrow loss may be viewed as an improvement by the Pakistan coaching team, I'm of a different opinion. This defeat showed that there are massive issues, not only with the playing personnel but also the selection committee. I said in my preview of the second T20 that it may not be a bad idea to promote Wahab Riaz up the order. While he's by no means a great technician, he is capable of clearing the boundary rope. Instead, Pakistan decided that they'd be better served moving Riaz further down the order. It backfired spectacularly, as number 9 batsmen, Anwar Ali, played one of the slowest innings in the history of T20 cricket - only scoring 3 runs while eating up 14 deliveries. Ali's innings effectively cost his team the game and while many will lay the blame at his feet, I personally think the skipper and coaching staff need to be held accountable.
At least the Pakistani's can take one positive out of this game; there wasn't a single run out in their batting innings. It's a small victory but at this point, Pakistan will take any confidence booster they can get.
Trevor Bayliss, must be quite content with his charges' displays over the past two weeks. Despite the England mentor implementing a rotational policy for the T20s, his side have still excelled - regardless of the personnel who have taken to the field. They will now aim to make it a whitewashed series when they take to the field at the Sharjah Cricket Association on Monday.
I believe they are perfectly set up to do just this. Joe Root and Jos Butler both impressed with the bat on their return to the side while James Vince's displays with the willow may well see the Warminster old-boy claim the man of the series accolade. Factor in Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan into the equation- both have played a decent knock in the series - and you've got a batting line-up capable of dismantling an out of sorts Pakistani bowling attack.
Even though his side have already won the series, I think Bayliss may opt to field his strongest eleven. Which means all the aforementioned, form batsmen, are likely to take to the field on Sunday. If he does go this route then I think Pakistan may be in for a bit of a hiding.
We return to the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates for the third and final T20. While the deck is quite batsmen friendly; Mohammad Irfan proved there's a bit of assistance in it for the bowler - if they hit the right mark - during the ODI series.
As has been the case for the majority of this bi-lateral, the spinners will have a large role to play here. Moeen Ali is likely to be the key man for England in this regard while Shahid Afridi will be the talisman for the men in green.
Verdict: England 8/10
Once again I'm going to avoid the exotic markets and opt for a straight outright. Back England to claim a series whitewash at 8/10.
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