After a very entertaining opening T20 international on Friday evening, England and Pakistan renew battle on Sunday when the two sides head to Leeds for the second T20 of the three match series at Headingley.
Pakistan know that a win here will see them take the series with a match to spare whereas England need to win to take the series to a decider. This match is on free to air TV so there is another reason for England to impress here.
I’m not completely sure the result mattered to England in that first match on Friday night. There are a couple of reasons why I suggest that. The first of those is the personnel who England picked, and perhaps more importantly the ones they left out, and the second one is the order in which Eoin Morgan used his men in the game. It felt like trying players out in positions was the bigger objective than winning the match, which is probably fair enough with a World T20 on the horizon.
Despite that, England will have been disappointed to lose the match, especially because their bowling was as poor as it was. Admittedly there were some decent innings played from the Pakistan batsmen but they were given more than a helping hand by a couple of England bowlers failing to execute their plans correctly. We probably shouldn’t judge their batting effort because they were chasing nearly two a ball from the outset.
Given the way that Pakistan were taken apart by a second string England side in the ODI series which preceded these T20 matches, full credit has to go to them for turning things around so quickly to be able to put on such an emphatic performance in the first game to go 1-0 up in the series. I always say that you never get a perfect display in the first game of a series these days given the lack of preparation time, but Pakistan were very close to it with then doing everything right.
They took their time to build a platform with the bat in hand and then once that was built they exploded to a massive score before getting some wickets in the powerplay and never really relinquishing the advantage they had built up throughout the match. The challenge to them now is to deliver the same level of quality with the bat because if they put up a decent today they have more than enough with the ball to defend scores.
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England have confirmed that Jos Buttler will return for this match and that Jonny Bairstow is fit. A few bowlers went round the park on Friday night so the call could go out for Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid to come into the side.
Given how close to perfect the Pakistan performance was in the opening match, it would be a huge surprise were they to make any changes unless Hasan Ali is passed fit and they want to bring him in. It would be harsh on whoever would get dropped though.
I’m fully expecting another high scoring run fest here on a ground where since the opening game of the Vitality Blast the lowest first innings score has been 174/6. Twice more than 220 has been posted batting first so the Headingley wicket which is becoming renowned for being good for batting on is certainly living up to expectation. The only thing to work out is how to play the match in terms of which market to target.
I’ll go with the sixes where the line is pretty low at 13.5 when you consider that there were 27 boundaries at Trent Bridge on Friday night. That has a small boundary since the new stand there went up but exactly the same is the case here at Headingley with a straight boundary in quite a bit now since the new football stand went up. The square boundaries aren’t exactly long either and with England bringing a brutal six hitter back into their side in Jos Buttler the sixes should continue to flow. I’ll take over 13.5 sixes here.
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