England vs Pakistan 3rd T20I Preview: Both teams gear up for thrilling decider as hosts continue to experiment
All three of Adil Rashid, Matthew Parkinson and Moeen Ali are likely to keep their place in the XI with the England management clearly looking at combinations for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
England's experiments continue
Eoin Morgan said before the beginning of the T20 series that he would not be averse to experiments and he hasn't disappointed on that front. After handing the likes of Matt Parkinson, Lewis Gregory and Sakib Mahmood opportunities in the series opener, Morgan decided to rest himself in the 2nd T20I despite having made just 121 runs from his last 11 T20I innings with the top score of 28.
Lewis Gregory and David Willey also missed with Chris Jordan And Adil Rashid replacing them. Jos Buttler came back into the side in place of Morgan and took over the captaincy as well.
With multiformat cricketers like Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran rested and Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer out injured, England have had to make do with a slightly weak bowling line up comprising, but that hasn't stopped experimentation.
Audition for UAE
There is hardly a time when you see as many as three spinners part of a playing XI in a T20I held in England, that one off-spin bowling all-rounder and two proper leg-spinners. Pakistan must have been wondering if England were trying to beat them at their own game and guess what, they did.
Moeen Ali conceded 32 runs but picked up two crucial wickets. Adil Rashid and Matthew Parkinson were extremely impressive and shared 3 wickets between them while giving away just 55 runs from 8 overs, not allowing the Pakistan batsmen to get away.
Parkinson got some tap in the series opener but Morgan showed his trust on the leggie and he delivered. These are clear signs that England are looking at the possibility of going in with this combination of spinners with the T20 World Cup set to be played in the UAE.
It's likely that Morgan has taken a cue from the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings, deciding to promote Moeen Ali up the order. Ali has got opportunities in the first two T20Is and he delivered in the second one, making a 16-ball 36 with 6 fours and one six while going at a strike rate of 225.
His bowling also looked a lot better with the off-spinner trying really hard to give it a rip rather than just floating it, which can be a tendency with Ali when not in good rhythm.
Pakistan's headless batting
After having scored well in excess of 200 in the series opener, Pakistan were by no means out of the game when England posted 200 in the 2nd T20I. The template was looking more or less the same with openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan adding 50 runs within the batting powerplay.
But, just when the time came to take it a step further, both Rizwan and Babar Azam fell, with the wicket of Sohaib Maqsood in between, to suck momentum out of the Pakistan innings.
As the Pakistan middle order continued to collapse, there was no coming back for the team despite efforts from Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan towards the end.
The one thing that is to blame for the dismissals of Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Hafeez and Azam Khan is senseless hitting. Yes, the required run rate is high, and yes, the team needs you to go hard, but there is a method to the madness - just swinging the willow wildly and expecting the ball to sail over the ropes won't happen every time. You have to pick your bowlers and the areas you want to target.
Pakistan must work on being a bit smarter with their six-hitting options as the two teams gear up for the decider in Manchester on Tuesday.
Predicted playing XIs:
England - Jos Buttler (c & wk), Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, Tom Curran, Saqib Mahmood, Adil Rashid, Matthew Parkinson
Pakistan - Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Azam Khan, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali/Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain
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