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Pakistan vs England 7th T20I Preview: Worthy decider on the cards as big guns return

Pakistan's Babar Azam
Pakistan's Babar Azam
©CWM
 

While Mark Wood and Chris Woakes are likely to feature for England, Mohammad Rizwan and Haris Rauf will be back for Pakistan in what promises to be a humdinger. 

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You couldn't have scripted it better at the start of the marathon 7-match T20 series. With the series going into the decider, both teams find themselves locked at 3-3. 

England set up decider 

In spite of England missing many key players and Pakistan also resting a few of their first XI players, the series has been absolutely top-notch quality and the matches have gone right down to the wire. 

England needed to win the 6th T20 International to draw level and they did it in some style, brushing aside Pakistan to win by 8 wickets with more than 5 overs to spare to set up the perfect decider. 

Pakistan rested Mohammad Rizwan and Haris Rauf, the fulcrums of their batting and bowling line up respectively, and the duo is likely to be back for the decider. 

Wood to be back, what about Buttler? 

For England, from what stand-in captain Moeen Ali said at the post match presentation, Jos Buttler is still at 50-50 at best and England might decide not to risk him, with England lined up to play a T20 series against Australia right before the World Cup and with a couple of warm up matches to follow as well. 

Tearaway Mark Wood is set to be back for England. It will be interesting to see whether or not Chris Woakes plays ahead of David Willey. Liam Dawson can also be an inspired inclusion in the England team as he has delivered with both bat and ball in the series till now. Richard Gleeson might have to miss out. 

Sluggish pitch 

The conditions in Lahore have not been conducive for a high scoring encounter. The pitches are a bit sluggish and the ball does not come on to the bat easily. 

Babar Azam was the only player in the Pakistan batting line up who could find some timing in the 6th T20 as he played a template knock of 87 not out off 59 deliveries at a strike rate of close to 150 -- the perfect hand, one would say, in the absence of Mohammad Rizwan. 

But, once again, Azam did not get enough support from the middle order as the team posted a decent total of 169. 

However, the way Phil Salt produced the best knock of his international career, it was game, set, match in the powerplay itself. Salt smoked 88 off 41 deliveries, bringing up 50 off just 19 balls -- the third fastest by an England batsman in T20I cricket. 

Alex Hales, Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett also kept going with the momentum and, before long, it was all over. 

Toss crucial in Lahore 

With leading players returning for both sides for the decider, expect one heck of a contest. The toss will also play a major role as it is notably easier to chase with heavy dew setting in. 

It is much tougher to press your foot on the accelerator in the first innings as the ball does not come on to the bat on a sluggish pitch in Lahore. As it is, Pakistan are much more comfortable while chasing and would be hoping that Babar Azam calls one in their favour at the toss on Sunday. 



Predicted Playing XIs 

Pakistan - Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Mohammad Hasnain 

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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