The tourists were blanked 3-0 by an inexperienced England line-up. What went wrong for the Men in Green?
Pakistan arguably entered the series as favourites due to England’s inexperienced squad. Coming in directly from the PSL, most of the Pakistan players had adequate game time under their belts. They also had sufficient time to adjust to the local conditions, arriving on the 25th of June and starting their training from the 28th. Pakistan have also toured England consecutively every year since 2016, so most of the squad knew what to expect.
England had to hurriedly name an entirely new team since the ODI squad that faced Sri Lanka had to self-isolate following positive Covid-19 tests. Ben Stokes was rushed in and named captain of a squad with 9 out of 18 players uncapped. Most of the players were called up mid-way through county games. Head Coach Chris Silverwood, who was supposed to be on a break, had to return to take over the reins.
So when Brydon Carse drove Shaheen Shah Afridi for a four through long-off, he capped off a remarkable victory. It showed the depth of England’s white-ball squads and the resources they have at their disposal.
So what went wrong for Pakistan?
Lack of preparation against fresh-faced England team
Coming into this series, Pakistan would have prepared for the likes of Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan, Mark Wood, and Chris Woakes. Instead, due to the last-minute changes, they had to shift all their plans.
With half of England’s squad comprised of entirely new and unfamiliar faces, Pakistan may have been underprepared for them.
Pakistan were bowled out in the first two ODIs, for 141 and 195 respectively. Pakistan’s ODI batting is heavily reliant on its top-order, and due to early wickets, Pakistan could not recover enough to score a big total.
In the first two ODIs, Pakistan were 46/4 and 38/3 at the end of the first 10 overs. Both times, the side got out for below-par totals. In the third ODI, Pakistan went with the strategy of conserving wickets early on. They managed 35/1 at the end of the Powerplay, after which Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq crafted a big partnership.
On the other hand, England went hard with the bat in the Powerplay, despite losing wickets. They scored 61/1, 72/2, and 84/2 in the three games. Phil Salt was instrumental in giving them quick starts, which set the tone for the rest of the innings.
Overall, Pakistan scored at a run rate of 3.97 in the Powerplay, while England scored at 7.23.
Pakistan has always had a much-touted pace bowling attack, but the current bowling line-up, including Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, and Haris Rauf, did not do as well as their English counterparts in this series.
Hasan Ali took 5/51 in the second ODI, and Haris Rauf took an expensive four-wicket haul in the third game, but other than that, the quicker bowlers couldn’t prise out wickets. Shaheen could only manage two wickets, while Faheem Ashraf went wicketless.
England’s pacers took 23 wickets in the series at an average of 22.6 and an economy of 5.07. Saqib Mahmood was the standout, taking 9 wickets at an average of 13.7 over the 3 games.
Pakistan’s pacers could only take 14 wickets, at a high average of 39.2 and a poor economy rate of 6.50.
Inability to finish off games
England never let Pakistan get in control of the first game. However, in both subsequent games, Pakistan had the hosts on the ropes with the ball at one point. England were 160-7 in the second game before a 69-run partnership between Lewis Gregory and Brydon Carse. This set up England for a total of 247, which Pakistan was unable to chase.
In the third ODI, Pakistan had reduced England to 165-5, defending 332. However, this time James Vince partnered up with Gregory for a 129-run stand, which ultimately led the hosts to victory.
Babar Azam and Misbah-ul-Haq will have a lot of questions after this series. However, they will not be able to dwell on them, with England and Pakistan set to play a T20I series almost immediately. Pakistan will then fly over to the Caribbean for more T20Is and then a Test series.
England, meanwhile, will be thrilled, as their fringe players showed great promise and the ability to take on players at the top level.