The second match of the T20 series between Pakistan and England takes place in Karachi on Thursday and after the big build-up to the first game between the two in the country for the first time in 17 years earlier in the week, there is a more normal feel to this one.
England held themselves together to win that opening match and they could move 2-0 up in the seven game series with another victory here. Pakistan will still have time to come back if they lose this game but will be eager to level things up as soon as they can.
Pakistan will be disappointed to have dropped the opening match of the series because they know how important the series is to the country and the people within it. The truth of the matter is they were largely subdued in it as they were towards the end of the Asia Cup and you sense we might not be a million miles away from a problem developing, one which doesn’t really need to come about but might just do so if it isn’t addressed quickly.
I don’t think the Pakistan batting order makes a whole lot of sense. In essense, Pakistan should be brutal with the bat because they have an opening partnership which time after time gives them a platform to launch from but then too often they mess things up and fail to maximise the position they are put in. That happened in the opening match where they just stalled after they lost a wicket and it needs to stop. We can’t really judge the bowlers on that first match as they just didn’t have enough runs on the board.
Given all the build-up to the opening game England could have been forgiven for needing some time in the middle in these conditions to produce their best cricket. I don’t think they were perfect in the opening game but they played about as well as they have done this summer and will be buoyed not just from the win but the fact that there is more to come from them as the series goes on. The biggest thing they did in the opening match was persevere and read conditions well.
England are clearly going to rotate their personnel throughout this series so it will be interesting to see if they can maintain an intensity throughout it. These aren’t traditionally conditions that they thrive in so the longer they can stay out in front in the series the better. England bowled very well in the opening game and if they can keep on bowling like that you would expect them to have the batting depth to be more than competitive as this goes on.
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You would imagine Pakistan will make changes from the first game given how comfortably they were beaten. Shan Masood didn’t really fit into the side so Asif Ali could come in while Shadab Khan would naturally lengthen the batting. Mohammad Hasnain could also come in.
England were expected to rotate their stock throughout the series anyway but there are concerns over the fitness of Richard Gleeson. Olly Stone is waiting for his international return while Will Jacks could also come into the side.
The opening match was a fairly low scoring one by Karachi standards but I’m hoping that was a bit of a freak because it wasn’t the greatest encounter to watch. I’m not convinced the pitch was fantastic but this constant stalling of the Pakistan batting might well have contributed to the low score. This match is being played on a different pitch so hopefully we get a game similar to the ones we have previously had on this ground.
I still have my doubts on this Pakistan order though so I’ll keep my bet for this match focused purely on England and that comes in the number of fours they will hit. England hit 21 fours in the first game on a sluggish surface in which at no stage did they really ever need to force the pace which they will need to do if Pakistan bat first and bat better or if England bat first and need to set a decent total. If we assume the pitch is better for batting than the first one was then that will bode well for England fours, which I prefer to sixes in case it is an innings in which the likes of Dawid Malan or Ben Duckett contribute most of the scoring rather than the more likely six hitters in Alex Hales and Moeen Ali. I like over 14.5 England fours here.
Back England – Over 14.5 fours for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365