England play their first home match of the summer on Sunday when they entertain Pakistan in a one-off T20 which surely nobody really wants to play with the focus now more on 50 over cricket ahead of the World Cup later in the month.
Despite that, there should be a decent crowd in Cardiff for England to attempt to thrill and with Pakistan wanting to lay down a marker for the big stuff to come this could and should turn into a competitive game of cricket.
Whether you could call England’s match with Ireland a warm up for this game and the ODI series that follows with it given all the players they left out I’m not entirely sure but it will be interesting to see what impact that match has had on those who are on show here. Conditions are expected to be a bit quicker and the opposition much stronger so England will need to be better in this one.
Once again England are sitting key players out for this match, which probably highlights where it is in the overall scheme of things for them, so there is another chance for those who were not named in their 15 man World Cup squad to try and force their way in, and with developments of the last couple of weeks or so there could be spots available.
I always like it when a side arrives on a tour early and plays a couple of warm up matches so credit to Pakistan for doing just that. They have played a couple of 50 over matches and also played a 20 over game against Leicestershire earlier in the week, piling up the runs in all three and looking to build their confidence nicely after their disappointing time of it against Australia.
There are one or two big guns not here for Pakistan as well in this match. They will come along later in the tour but this does look a good Pakistan outfit, who won the last global event to be played in England and who look to be building up for another assault on a major title. If their batting hold together over the next couple of months we should get some really entertaining cricket from this lot.
England will be without the injured Jason Roy and Dawid Malan for this contest while Alex Hales has shot his international career in the foot. Phil Salt was called up to replace Malan but it is expected that James Vince and Ben Duckett will open the batting. Jofra Archer is set for a T20 international debut.
Pakistan are missing Shoaib Malik for this contest but they do have the leading T20 batsman in the world in their ranks in Babar Azam. Imam-ul-Haq could be included here while Mohammad Amir may get the chance to force his way into the World Cup reckoning.
Usually with the short straight boundaries at Cardiff there would be a tendency to look towards the sixes here but actually when you look at the two sides on show here there aren’t a huge amount of six hitters in their ranks. England’s power of the likes of Roy, Stokes, Bairstow, Hales and Buttler are all missing while Pakistan don’t tend to hit big as a rule.
The quality is very much in both bowling attacks here and actually neither of these attacks tend to get taken apart too often. You always want good death bowling when you are taking the sixes on and both these sides have that. They also have good middle over bowlers so while we might see an entertaining and competitive match, I’m not convinced we’ll see more than 11.5 sixes over the course of it.
WON – Back Under 11.5 sixes for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with William Hill
Back it here: