England vs Pakistan 2nd T20I Preview: Pakistan continue to bank on seniors as Morgan & co miss key players
It was a shame that rain interrupted play when Pakistan and England were in the middle of some exciting cricket, with the momentum oscillating periodically.
Venue - Old Trafford, Manchester
Start time - 1:15 PM GMT/2:15 AM LOCAL
Head to Head record in T20Is - England: 11 Pakistan: 4 No result: 1
Weather - Mostly cloudy, 7-15 °C, Precipitation: 10%, Humidity: 64%, Wind: 10 km/h
One can only hope that the remaining two matches of the Pakistan tour go on unhindered and the fans can get to see uninterrupted live cricket, for which the bio-secure bubble has been created and thousands of millions have been spent.
Tom Banton shines
If there is one player who would be glad that at least 16.1 overs of play was possible in the series opener, he is Tom Banton. After struggling in the ODIs against Ireland, Banton showed why he is rated so highly with a blistering knock of 71 off 42 deliveries with 4 fours and 5 sixes, at a strike rate of almost 170.
It was not easy going for him from the outset as Pakistan bowlers, with some assistance from the cloudy conditions, restricted the hosts to just 34 for one after the end of the powerplay.
It was when Shadab Khan was introduced into the attack, with Baton on 20 off 19 deliveries, that he decided to to step up the run scoring. He was the most severe on the leg spinner but ultimately Shadab had the last laugh.
Pakistan bowlers hit back
Pakistan came back strongly towards the end with wickets of Tom Banton, Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali and Lewis Gregory in a space of just three overs. Things could have looked way better for Pakistan had Iftikhar Ahmed held onto a nick from Banton off Shaheen Shah Afridi at first slip quite early on in the match.
That said, the Pakistan bowling did impres as they decided to go with T20 specialist Haris Rauf ahead of the experienced Wahab Riaz. Although Rauf was the most expensive of the lot, he looked threatening at all times.
Imad Wasim turned out to be the best bowler for Pakistan, not only being economical with an economy rate of 7.8 RPO, but picking up two crucial wickets.
Too early to make changes
With not even 50% of the overs possible in the first match, it will be difficult for either team to even think of making a change to their XI. England can consider bringing in Joe Denly ahead of David Malan, who played at run a ball before being run-out and seemed to be stuck in the middle, but that would be harsh on the 32-year-old.
Likewise, for Pakistan, Haris Rauf was a bit expensive but it was mainly due to the inventive shots that Baton played off him and the youngster deserves another opportunity.
Young Pakistan batting star Haider Ali was expected to make the XI, perhaps in place of Mohammad Hafeez. But, with the veteran batsman included in the XI for the first match, it will now be unfair to drop him without allowing him to prove himself.
Spinners crucial despite overheads
The conditions are expected to remain cloudy in Manchester and with enough assistance for both spinners and pace bowlers from the pitch, the predicted score is not expected to cross 170 at the most, unless one of the willow flashers decides to have a field day.
The pitch at Manchester has conventionally suited spinners. This is the reason why both teams have gone in with two spin options each - Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan for Pakistan and Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid for England - and will continue to do so.
While the Pakistan batting might actually prefer the spinners, the biggest threat for England will be the Pakistan spinners. Tom Banton did succeed in getting hold of them in the first match but the Pakistan spinners shared 5 wickets in the match to bring the team back in the game.
No rain predicted
Last, but perhaps most importantly, is the weather in Manchester, which is not predicted to be at its best, but way better than on Friday. Precipitation is at only 10%, and showers, if any, are not likely to be severe.
Here's a look at the probable playing XI of both teams:
Pakistan - Babar Azam(c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan(wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi
England - Tom Banton, Jonny Bairstow(wk), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan(c), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood
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