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Pakistan vs England, 1st T20I Preview: Back in Pakistan after 17 years, depleted England face uphill task

Pakistan vs England, 1st T20I Preview
Pakistan vs England, 1st T20I Preview
©Reuters
 

The visitors are without Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Chris Jordan. Captain Jos Buttler has also been ruled out from the first leg of the tour. 

Live Scores and Stats - Pakistan v England 1st t20I

Context 

Right before the 2021 T20 World Cup, England were scheduled to play two T20Is in Pakistan which the team gave a pass due to security concerns albeit citing player fatigue as the official reason. They also cancelled their women's tour to the nation. 

To compensate for the cancelled series, England are now set to play an unprecedented 7-match T20 series which is unheard of in the current day and age. However, it will only be an advantage for both sides. 

Often we see in short 3-match series these days that enough players are not able to get opportunities and how do you judge an international cricketer on the basis of one success or failure? 7 matches allow for plenty of chopping and changing and for both sides to settle on to a solid playing XI by the time the series comes to an end. 

England's absentees 

That said, England won't be able to benefit greatly from the arrangement as they have a long list of absentees. From the last time they played a T20 International against South Africa, they are without Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Chris Jordan. 

Roy has been dropped from the England squad for the tour and the upcoming T20 World Cup following an extended patch of poor form. Jos Buttler is with the side on the tour but the England captain has ruled himself out of the first part of the series. 

Jonny Bairstow also suffered a freak injury while playing golf and has been ruled out of the World Cup. Liam Livingstone and Chris Jordan have both been named in England squad for the T20 World Cup but are currently recuperating back home. 

Some game time for new faces 

Pakistan too have some injury concerns with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Fakhar Zaman and Shahnawaz Dahani not available due to injury. Shan Masood is expected to take Fakhar Zaman's place at number 3 in what will be a straight swap. 

Haider Ali is expected to get some game time after being preferred over Shoaib Malik in Pakistan's T20 World Cup squad. 

The men in green have named two new faces in Abrar Ahmed and Aamir Jamal in the squad and both are likely to get some game time in the series. Ahmed is a right arm leg spinner who made his T20 debut for Karachi Kings in 2017 and has taken 18 wickets at an economy rate of 7.62 in 16 domestic T20 matches. 

26-year-old all-rounder Jamal is known for using the long handle to good effect and can also chip in with some handy medium pace bowling and has been preferred over Faheem Ashraf. 

It will be interesting to see if Pakistan decide to rest the likes of Mohammad Rizwan, Asif Ali and Shadab Khan as the players are known to be carrying a few injuries from the Asia Cup itself. 

All eyes on comeback man Alex Hales 

England are likely to open with Philip Salt and comeback man Alex Hales who is back after a 3-year exile in international cricket. Dawid Malan and Harry Brook will feature in the middle order. 

In the absence of captain and wicket keeper Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali will take on the leadership role while Ben Duckett is expected to keep wickets for England. Richard Gleeson, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley and Mark Wood are their leading bowlers. 

Predicted Playing XIs 

England
- Philip Salt, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali (c), Ben Duckett (wk), Sam Curran, David Willey/Richard Gleeson, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley, Mark Wood 

Pakistan - Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haider Ali/Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Abrar Ahmed/Shadab Khan, Aamir Jamal/Asif Ali, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain  

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