Following their 2-2 draw in the Test series and subsequent crowning as the best Test side on the planet, Pakistan will look to go one better when they face the English in a five One Day International to be played between 27 August and 04 September.
Can Azhar Ali and his ODI charges recreate the form of the Test side or will England bring the Pakistanis back down to earth following their efforts in the Tests? Let’s check it out:
England vs Pakistan | Wednesday 24 August | The Rose Bowl | Southampton, England | 14:30
To Win Match
England 46/100 | Tie 35/1 | Pakistan 18/10
The English – despite their average showing in the Test series – come into the limited overs segment of this tour as heavy favourites. They currently sit fifth in the ODI rankings, just four rating points behind South Africa and India and a further three adrift of New Zealand. On the other side of the coin, Pakistan are languishing toward the bottom end of the standings, sitting above the likes of Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland.
While you can’t really read too much into the ICC rankings, especially when it comes to limited overs cricket, there is enough of a gap between these two sides to suggest a gulf in class. The English come into this series at pretty much full strength and shouldn’t have too much trouble dealing with the threat that Pakistan pose.
The home side’s top order looks rock-solid with Jason Roy and Alex Hales opening things up before the likes of Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes come in further down the order. What’s more, England bat deep – really deep.
If you look at the last ODI that England played against Sri Lanka in July, they had Adil Rashid, who has a handy ODI average of 24.50 striking at 111..78, coming in to bat at 11. With that in mind we can probably expect Trevor Bayliss’ men to put on some massive scores against a Pakistan bowling attack who don’t really set the world alight with the white ball in hand.
While the batting unit is England’s obvious strength, their bowling attack isn’t half bad either. David Willey and Liam Plunkett both managed 10 wickets apiece – and topping the wicket-taking stakes – in their recently-concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka while Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes played supporting roles, picking vital wickets and keeping their economy rates under control.
If the English attack can build on the work that the batting unit has achieved over the last few years, they’ll become genuine challengers for the next World Cup as well as the number one ODI ranking spot.
Having claimed the number one position on the Test rankings, the Pakistanis will be keen to lay down a bit of a marker in the ODI series too. However, actually upsetting England in a five-match limited overs series on English soil is an entirely different story.
It’s fair to say that Pakistan don’t have the greatest record in the world when it comes to ODI's. In their last 13 series, they’ve only managed to win four; and even those came against the likes of Zimbabwe (home and away), Ireland and Sri Lanka – not exactly the cream of the cricketing crop.
That said, the Asians will still be determined to make a contest out of these five games and will want to make intentions known in Southampton on Wednesday. Their ODI squad doesn’t differ much from their Test squad, with the likes of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq dropping away to makes space for Shoaib Malik and co.
Two guys who are going to have to play out of their skin if the visitors are to stand any chance of winning this series is Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz. The two were magnificent in the Test series and should benefit from the English conditions. If they can make early inroads, it opens up the possibility for someone like Imad Wasim or Malik to come on early and limit the scoring.
The one player I’m most interested in seeing is Sharjeel Khan. He played magnificently well against Ireland last week for his 86-ball 152. The Hyderabad native has been in and around the squad for a few years now, having played plenty of cricket for Pakistan’s ‘A’ side. Management will be desperately keen for him to kick on and fill the opening role – a long-standing problem area for Pakistan in all formats of the game.
Front Foot No-Balls
Interestingly enough, the ICC have chosen this series to trial a new idea that will see the television umpire take responsibility for the calling of front foot no-balls. “This trial is being carried out to ascertain if there is a way in which the front foot no-balls can be called more accurately and consistently, while also assessing the TV umpire’s workload and identifying the impact it will have on the flow of the game,” said Adrian Griffith, the ICC’s senior manager of umpires and referees. It’s a massive leap forward in a sport where stagnation is often preferred in the name of keeping with tradition.
I think it’s a fantastic idea, on-field umpires seem overburdened anyway: having to watch the front foot of the bowler before checking to see whether the ball pitches in-line with the stumps before having to check where the ball makes contact with the batsman.
Verdict: England 46/100
Simply put, the English are far too good for this Pakistani side. I don’t think that the men from Asia have a bowling attack capable of stemming the inevitable flood of runs that the English batsmen are likely to score. England are tipped confidently here at 46/100.
Value Bet: Jos Buttler to top score for England at 7/1
This is a cracking price for someone like Jos Buttler in a team like England. The nature of the English top order generally means that they attack early on, and while as a collective they put on massive scores, the top order all generally tend to get scores between 40 and 60 before being dismissed in the hunt for more quick runs. This generally means that someone like Buttler gets quite a bit of time out in the middle. The English ‘keeper can be unstoppable on his day, and 7/1 offers huge value!
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.