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England brace for another spin battle - Second ODI preview

England will be hoping for wickets from Reece Topley with the new ball again.
England will be hoping for wickets from Reece Topley with the new ball again.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Second ODI - Pakistan v England in Abu Dhabi
Start time - 15:00 local | 11:00 GMT

There has been rain in Abu Dhabi this week, a rare occurrence in this hot and arid land.

Clouds are also gathering over the England team after their Test series defeat and their performance in the first One Day International, which Pakistan won by six wickets.

It would be wrong to get carried away; England are an inexperienced side in one-day cricket and Pakistan are at home in conditions they know well. There is no crisis.

However, there were some familiar failings on show from England in the first game of the series which need addressing. Only Eoin Morgan and James Taylor, with 76 and 60 respectively, kept England from an embarrassing total. The rest of the top seven mustered 18 runs between them.

With young players it is important to show patience and faith, giving them time to find their feet and feel comfortable so that they can show what they can do.

For the likes of Jason Roy and Alex Hales at the top of England’s order that policy has been quite right, especially as their swashbuckling style is high risk and high reward. They are bound to fail sometimes.

However, these two players in particular, and Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali further down the order, need runs in the remaining three games.

Roy averages 27 and Hales just a tick over 20 with four half centuries between them from 33 games. Alastair Cook, jettisoned from the one-day side just before the World Cup, averages 36.

Nobody is suggesting England go back to Cook, but it gives you an idea of where these two players stand in comparison.

One potential solution is to move Moeen Ali up to the top of the order, a role he has played before in one-day games for his county and for England, and then bring in Jonny Bairstow or Sam Billings to the middle order. It is unlikely that will happen for now but is an option.

England lost wickets in clumps on Wednesday, much as they did in the Test series, being 14 for three and then losing five wickets for 33 runs in the middle order.

It is something they need to avoid in the second game, realising that it is acceptable to just bat for five overs and then catch up the runs later.

England’s emergence as a one-day team of real potential has been based on achieving scores of 300 plus. That is the right approach but at some grounds and on some pitches, they should set their target at 270.

The Abu Dhabi pitch is slow, not conducive to stroke making, and whoever bats first will be favourites with 270 on the board.

Pakistan look in good order though and as poorly as England batted, the hosts bowled impressively. Surprisingly it was Mohammad Irfan and Anwar Ali who did the main damage.

They swung the new ball, making early inroads in England’s batting line up and ended with five wickets between them.

Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz, thought of before the game as the main threats, only took one wicket but underlined their class with miserly spells which never let England get away.

They will have a key role to play on Friday if England get off to a good start.

Mohammad Hafeez’s excellent century carried on his fine form from the Test series and the Pakistan order looks heavily reliant on him for runs in much the same way that England are for Morgan and Joe Root.

If Hafeez goes early, England may be able to exert pressure on Pakistan’s middle order and long tail.

Their batting has lost Younis Khan who retired after the first One Day International, a surprising decision given that he had only just been recalled to the side.

Ahmed Shehzad is likely to replace him with the all-rounder Bilal Asif moving down the order after his unsuccessful move to the opening berth in the first ODI.

England’s selectors have proven to be consistent and certainly there is enough credit in the bank for them to keep changes to a minimum.

Despite their batting being the main reason for defeat in the first game, it is likely that the bowling attack will be changed with Liam Plunkett coming in to the side to provide some pace to an attack that looked a little shorn of top speed.

Spin was once again a problem for England with Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali inconsistent, with Rashid in particular disappointing. As during the Test series, Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik out bowled both.

England must keep faith as both and hope both prove more dangerous if provided with a bigger total to defend.

Reece Topley’s performance with the new ball in his second ODI was encouraging in taking 3-26 from nine overs but after the early wickets, the rest of the attack looked a bit toothless on a flat pitch.

The truth is that they need big totals to be more effective on these types of pitches.

England have proved over the last six months that they learn quickly. They fell behind in the one-day series against both New Zealand and Australia during the English summer but managed to rectify their issues to get back in to those series.

Something similar will have to happen in Abu Dhabi if they are to prevent Pakistan going 2-0 up in the series.


Several England players look out of form - Hales, Buttler, Ali - so Pakistan start as favourites. If one of England’s top order can fire, they still have a chance but Pakistan should win and go 2-0 up.

Probable Teams:


1. Jason Roy, 2. Alex Hales, 3. Joe Root, 4. James Taylor, 5. Eoin Morgan (captain), 6. Jos Buttler (wk), 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Liam Plunkett, 9. Adil Rashid, 10. David Willey, 11. Reece Topley


1. Azhar Ali (captain), 2. Ahmed Shehzad, 3. Mohammad Hafeez, 4. Shoaib Malik, 5. Babar Azam, 6. Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 7. Bilal Asif, 8. Wahab Riaz, 9. Yasir Shah, 10. Anwar Ali, 11. Mohammad Irfan


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