Pakistan look to draw first blood against England

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By our correspondent

KARACHI: Pakistan will be looking to bring parity when they face England in their second T20 game of the seven-match series here at the National Stadium on Thursday (today).

This is a very crucial game for either side. Pakistan are to level the series 1-1 and England will be desperately looking to extend the lead. Both sides are battling issues with their key players either injured or coming from injuries.

In the first game, quite unexpectedly, Pakistan did not show the spine which they needed to exhibit. Being hosts they are well-aware of the conditions.

The credit goes to England as they overcame Pakistan with an enviable ease by six wickets in their own backyards despite the fact that majority of their players were playing for the first time on Pakistan’s soil. Only a few had the experience of playing in the PSL.

Alex Hales marked his return to international cricket in style with a sluggish but useful 53 off 40 balls and played an anchor role to guide England chase the 159-run target with four balls to spare after losing four wickets in the process.

At a stage when England needed to step up it was Harry Brook who did the job with a super unbeaten 42 off 25 balls and added 55 runs for the fourth wicket stand with Hales to do the job for England as they won their first T20 game which they played on Pakistan’s soil.

This is after 17 years that England are here in Pakistan to play a series since they last toured way back in 2005 for a full-fledged Test series.

Pakistani pacers did not bowl in the right area on a wicket which seemed to be tricky. Naseem Shah conceded 41 in four overs and Shahnawaz Dahani leaked 38 runs in just 3.2 overs that damaged Pakistan’s cause.

Leggie Usman Qadir gave away 36 runs in four overs by taking two wickets. Off his bowling Shan Masood missed a setter of Alex Hales when he was at his half-stage of his innings. Haris Rauf (1-23 in 4) looked impressive. Pakistan will have to deliver their best in bowling in the second game as it is the strong area of the team.

Pakistan’s area of more concern is their batting. Despite taking a solid start as both Babar (31) and Rizwan (68) put on 85 off 57 balls in the opening stand the Green-shirts failed to capitalise on that and were restricted to just 158-7, a target which seemed easy for a team like England to achieve.

With Haider Ali (11) and Shan Masood (7) failing with the bat it was Iftikhar Ahmed who did a fine job with an explosive 17-ball 28 but still it did not help the hosts to stage a decent total on the board which could be defended. Mohammad Nawaz (4) also got out cheaply with Khushdil scoring just five off seven deliveries, which was against his nature.

Pakistan will need to show some intensity in their batting. Skipper Babar Azam will have to opt for reshuffling in the batting line-up which is the only way if a solid total is to be put on the board against England which are adept in showing resilience.

It is also expected that Pakistan will make some changes in the side which lost the opening game.

England, too, are likely to test another youngster as their young left-armer Luke Wood had a dream debut by taking 3-24 in his quota of four overs and got the man of the match award. England has drafted five uncapped players for the series which is a prelude to the ICC T20 World Cup which will begin in Australia next month.

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Aamir Jamal, Abrar Ahmed, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Usman Qadir

England squad: Jos Buttler (captain), Moeen Ali (vice-captain), Harry Brook, Jordan Cox, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Liam Dawson, Richard Gleeson, Alex Hales, Tom Helm, Will Jacks, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Phil Salt, Olly Stone, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Luke Wood, Mark Wood

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