England vs Pakistan 3rd ODI Preview: Ben's Babes chase history in final ODI
Pakistan still have an opportunity to salvage some pride and 10 ODI Super League points.
Hats off to Ben's Babes
One cannot harp on it enough. This is England's second string side, some might argue third string. Despite that, the clinical performances that they have dished out in the first two matches of the series can even put the first-choice England players to shame.
This is why team culture is stressed upon so much. There may not be the likes of Jos Butler and Jonny Bairstow visible on the TV screen, but you would not know that going by the approach of the England batsmen.
In the 2nd ODI, Phil Salt and James Vince added 97 runs for England's 3rd wicket as the team brought up their 100 from just 13.1 overs. After a couple of early dismissals, Salt went on the offensive despite the ball doing a lot, particularly off the surface, as he took Faheem Ashraf for four boundaries in a single over.
At one point, England had blasted 7 fours from 11 deliveries and this is when there was a lot in it for the bowlers. It was England's aggressive approach which put Pakistan on the back foot and despite the visitors coming back to keep the batters under check, they were always chasing their tail after England's onslaught.
Following Hasan Ali's three dismissals in quick succession, as he accounted for Ben Stokes, John Simpson and Craig Overton, England were in deep trouble at 160/7 from 27.4 overs and Pakistan had an opportunity to bundle them out within 200 runs. However, Lewis Gregory and Brydon Carse dug deep and took England to 247.
Hasan Ali was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan and picked up a 5-wicket haul - his first in ODI cricket in 4 years.
Mahmood in top form
As the chase began, Saqib Mahmood showed his talent once again, dismissing both Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan in quick succession to break the back of the Pakistan line-up. This came after Imam-ul-Haq was dismissed on just his second delivery, following up on a golden duck in the series opener.
Only Saud Shakeel could hold his own, making 56 off 77 balls as he brought up his maiden ODI half century. Hasan Ali entertained the spectators with 31 off 17 deliveries which included 3 sixes and one boundary off consecutive deliveries against Matt Parkinson, but that could not prevent Pakistan from a 52-run defeat.
Pakistan struggle to cope with swing
"I thought we bowled well at the start but couldn't sustain it for longer periods and that's where it cost us. With the bat, we couldn't do well in the first 10 overs and there weren't any partnerships as such. We lost too many wickets early and it was hard to come back after that. Hopefully we can sort things out before the next game. The way Hasan bowled and Shakeel batted, these are good positives for us. Focus is to do well in the next game because there are still Super League points on offer," a disappointed Babar Azam said after Pakistan's series loss.
The visitors still have a very good side. It's just that they have not been able to come to terms with the liberal swing on offer, and their top order which has won them many matches in recent times is struggling to cope with it.
Matters are made worse for them by some exquisite bowling from Saqib Mahmood who has brought about their downfall in the first two matches. If they can get off to a solid start, Pakistan still have a lot of talent to trouble England.
Hasnain replacing Rauf?
Pakistan are likely to bring in Mohammad Hasnain in place of the wayward Haris Rauf. Considering that Ben Stokes said he would love nothing more than a win in the final ODI, will he be willing to give the likes of Daniel Lawrence, Ben Duckett, Jake Ball, Danny Briggs, Will Jacks, Tom Helm and David Payne an opportunity, with the series already decided?
Regardless, it will find a special place in cricketing history if England are able to whitewash Pakistan in the absence of almost all of their leading players.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
England - Philip Salt, Dawid Malan, Zak Crawley, James Vince, Ben Stokes (c), John Simpson (wk), Lewis Gregory, Craig Overton, Brydon Carse, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson
Pakistan - Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saud Shakeel, Sohaib Maqsood, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain
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