Pakistan vs England 6th T20I Preview: Time for experimentation over with just two matches to go
It might be finally time for captain Jos Buttler to take the field. Pakistan, on the other hand, have been rocked with Naseem Shah being hospitalized due to pneumonia.
The first match of the Lahore leg proved to be another humdinger much like the ones in Karachi. Batting first, Pakistan lost 3 wickets for just 51, courtesy of some red-hot bowling from Mark Wood who returned after sitting out of the 4th T20 and picked up from where he had left off.
Wood accounted for the wicket of Babar Azam once again with a fast and well-directed bouncer. Shan Masood was taken out by David Willey while trying a lap shot. Haider Ali almost froze against another rapid bouncer from Wood and paid the prize.
Rizwan's amazing consistency
Pakistan could never stabilize in the middle overs and had it not been for the 46-ball 63 from Player of the Match Mohammad Rizwan, the team would have found itself in real trouble.
After Rizwan, the highest scorer for Pakistan in the 5th T20 was Iftikhar Ahmed who managed only 15 off 14 balls. What hurt Pakistan the most was the run out of Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan as the team could have easily crossed 160 had it not been for those unforced errors.
Making a match out of it
155 was a below par total and the Pakistan bowlers knew it well as they set out to defend. However, things turned around quite quickly for Pakistan as England lost 3 wickets in the powerplay due to some daft batting and could have easily played it smarter, with the target just 156 and the ball not coming on to the bat amid hot and humid conditions.
Dawid Malan made run a ball 36 but other than him, there was no contribution of note among England's top five. Had it not been for Moeen Ali's half century, England wouldn't have even reached close.
However, once Ali started middling a few balls, the target was very much in England's reach, especially with 15 required in the last over and with Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali at the crease against a bowler on debut in Aamer Jamal. Credit to Jamal, he did not allow England a sniff.
Spinners Mohammed Nawaz, Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed had a stranglehold over the England batters in the middle order as they not only played a lot of dot balls but also gave their wickets away.
For England, Mark Wood was once again head and shoulders above the rest of the bowlers. Sam Curran also did a fine job by taking two wickets while giving away 23 runs from his 4 overs.
Buttler to be back?
With England trailing by 2-3 in the seven match T20 series and with two matches still to go, this might just be the perfect time for Jos Buttler to be introduced in the series. He will probably take over the wicket keeping gloves from Phil Salt as well.
Buttler is expected to open the batting alongside Alex Hales. If England have to continue with this combination in the T20 World Cup as well, the two batters will have to bat together more often.
With two matches to go in the series, both teams are now expected to play at their full strength and fine tune their playing XI in the lead up to the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Predicted Playing XIs
Pakistan - Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Aamer Jamal, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr
England - Alex Hales, Jos Buttler/Philip Salt (wk), Dawid Malan, Ben Duckett, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali (c), Sam Curran, Chris Woakes/Liam Dawson, Reece Topley, Mark Wood, Adil Rashid
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