We preview the upcoming ODI series between world champions England and tourists Pakistan.
Pakistan & England will be facing each other in an ODI after more than two years on the 8th of July at the Sophia Gardens. The last encounter between both sides was won by Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup, while England didn’t let Pakistan win any game in the 5-match series before the World Cup. The importance of the series will be further increased because of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League 2020-2022/23. England are currently at the top of the table, but Pakistan has a chance to replace England if they clean-sweep this series.
Let’s start this series preview by taking a look at how both sides have been performing recently.
Pakistan has played only 6 ODIs since the start of 2020, the least among the top 9 sides. They won both their 3-match series 2-1. While defeating South Africa in South Africa was a fantastic outcome, they had faced an upset earlier against Zimbabwe at Rawalpindi.
Unlike Pakistan, England have been playing this format regularly. They have played 15 games since 2020, the most for any team. However, among their three series against the top 8 teams, they have won none (losing to India and Australia and drawing with South Africa). England’s complete domination against Sri Lanka in the recent series will be a good confidence booster for them.
Head to Head
Pakistan’s record against England in ODIs has been pretty dismal, particularly in bilateral series. In the 64 bilateral games played between the two sides, Pakistan has won only 19 (W/L ratio: 0.44). In tournaments with 2+ teams, Pakistan has performed better, winning 13 of the 24 games (W/L ratio: 1.3). Both sides have faced each other 20 times in the last ten years. England has lost only 4 of them. Among the current top 6 ODI sides, Pakistan has the worst record against England.
ODI Record Against England
Pakistan’s only ODI series win against England in England was their first-ever limited-overs tour to the country in 1974. Nine of the other ten bilateral series between both the countries in England were won by the home side, while one was tied.
Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood, Usman Qadir
There have been four changes to Pakistan’s ODI squad from their series against South Africa.
Inclusions: Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Sohail
Exclusions: Danish Aziz, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Mohammad Wasim
The changes have been mainly limited to middle-order batting. Pakistan’s top-order had a great time in South Africa. Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, & Babar Azam collectively made three half-centuries and three centuries in nine innings. However, batsmen from #4-7 scored just 139 runs in 12 innings. The new inclusions will most probably bat in any of these batting positions.
The bowling attack for Pakistan will remain mostly the same. An important question would be about the spin attack. Shadab Khan will be the first choice, being the vice-captain of the side too. Mohammad Nawaz, as he brings variety, might be used if the team plays two proper spinners. Otherwise, Saud Shakeel or Salman Ali Agha can also be used as part-timers.
Babar Azam is in phenomenal form in ODIs. His last 11 innings – starting from the 101* against New Zealand in Birmingham – include four centuries, two 90s, and a half-century at a strike rate of almost 100. With the help of this great form, Babar will wish to lead his team to a second consecutive away series win in ODIs.
Hasan Ali made a dream comeback in both Tests & T20Is for Pakistan but has only played one ODI since his return. His conversion to a new-ball strike-bowler will be very important for Pakistan in this series. In 2021, England have the best run rate (7.9) & average (77.8) for opening partnerships. Pakistan will require Hasan to maintain his rhythm to counter the Bairstow-Roy duo in the series.
Sohaib Maqsood will be a crucial part of the team’s middle-order if he gets the nod for a playing XI slot. Pakistan will be dependent on him to boost the run rate, as most of the other top & middle-order batsmen lack power-hitting ability. He has the highest List A strike rate in the squad (min 500 balls). Maqsood scored 455 runs @ 46 in Pakistan Cup 2021 with a strike rate of 128, the highest among the top ten run-scorers.
Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow (wk), Tom Banton (wk), Sam Billings (wk), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
England have made no changes in their ODI squad. While their batting lineup looks very good, there might be some concerns about the bowling attack and the poor bowling form of Tom Curran and Adil Rashid.
After being dismal with the bat in 2020, Joe Root has started well this year, scoring two unbeaten half-centuries in England’s successful run-chases against Sri Lanka. Root, the top-run scorer for England at #3 in ODIs, has consistently scored runs against Pakistan in this format. He has scored the joint-most 50+ scores (7) in ODIs for any Englishman against Pakistan. With an average & strike rate of 52 and 93 respectively against Pakistan, Root will be a major threat to Pakistan’s bowling lineup.
Chris Woakes is the all-time top wicket-taker for England against Pakistan in ODIs and has the most wickets for any bowler against Pakistan in this format since 2015. He has taken 30 wickets in 13 innings, including five 4-wicket-hauls. Woakes has also remained consistent with the ball recently, taking six wickets each in his last two series. He has only conceded 2.3 RPO (vs. Sri Lanka) & 4.6 RPO (vs. Australia) in these series. England will look to him to counter Pakistan’s strong top order.
Best Bowling Strike Rate Against Pakistan in ODIs (min 15 wickets)
After crushing Sri Lanka without much difficulty, England’s series against Pakistan will have many more challenges. The series is likely to be a better watch for the cricket fans, too, with some competition involved. I think England will remain victorious while Pakistan might clinch one of the three games. Who do you think will be lifting the winners’ trophy on the 13th of July – Eoin Morgan or Babar Azam?