Pakistan vs England 2nd T20I Preview: Pakistan's middle order under the scanner as batting tries to press on
Pakistan's middle order has been a concern for some time now and that is the main reason why they have lost their last 3 T20 Internationals.
Rizwan keeps going
There were a few whispers before the beginning of the series that Pakistan may decide to rest Mohammad Rizwan for the first couple of matches after a few injury scares during the Asia Cup. As it is, Rizwan has played a lot of cricket of late and with Pakistan not possessing another keeper batsman anywhere near the capability of Rizwan, it would have been a wise decision.
However, the pocket dynamo opted against the rest and walked out to open the batting for the team in the series opener. As it turned out, he was their top run scorer with 68 off 46 deliveries going at a strike rate of close to 150 and also had a brilliant 85 run partnership with Babar Azam.
The way the two Pakistan openers made use of the batting powerplay was brilliant to see but as has been the problem with them for a long time, they were not able to capitalise once more fielders were allowed on the boundary and the wind was knocked out of Pakistan's sails.
A major contribution in that was from Like Wood who was making his T20 debut for England and was brilliant with the ball. Wood took three important wickets while giving away just 24 runs from his 4 overs.
Sam Curran also did a fine job. As did Adil Rashid who drew first blood by dismissing Babar Azam with a brilliant googly.
David Willey though was quite expensive and if the ball does not swing first up, there don't seem to be a lot of arrows in his quiver. England can look to try out Olly Stone in case Mark Wood isn't able to gain complete fitness by the time the T20 World Cup begins. He is someone who can provide a point of difference to the side.
Middle order woes
Pakistan's middle order has been a concern for some time now and that is the main reason why they have lost each of their last 3 T20 Internationals - two against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup and now the first match of the seven match T20 series.
That said, Pakistan will still like to give the likes of Haider Ali and Shaan Masood a few more opportunities. Khushdil Shah has come under the scanner for not delivering for a long time now. More so, he is being used as a specialist batter and hasn't bowld for some time.
Pakistan's pace bowlers Naseem Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani were also completely off the boil. Dahani, who is not part of Pakistan's main squad for the T20 World Cup, is expected to get one more opportunity before Mohammad Hasnain or Mohammad Wasim Jr is called upon.
Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Haris, Abrar Ahmed and Aamer Jamal were the other Pakistan players who were on the bench in the series opener and might have to wait for at least one more game to get their opportunity.
Hales is back, and how
Alex Hales was the top scorer for England with a sensible 53 off 40 balls as he impressed on international comeback albeit being a little scratchy to start off. Harry Brook was the standout performer for England with an unbeaten 42 off 25 balls as he made light work of the 159-run target ultimately.
Pakistan need to pull up their socks and show a bit more intent with the bat to set the ball rolling for the World Cup.
Top Tournament Stats - England tour of Pakistan 2022
Predicted Playing XIs
Pakistan - Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Haider Ali, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani/Mohammad Hasnain
England - Alex Hales, Philip Salt (wk), Dawid Malan, Ben Duckett, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali (c), Sam Curran, David Willey/Olly Stone, Luke Wood, Adil Rashid, Richard Gleeson
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