England enjoy edge, but Pakistan no pushovers
Four matches of the seven-game series between Pakistan and England have been played and yet it is difficult to predict who will ultimately go on to win it. It is 2-2 at the moment and the next three encounters promise to be a roller-coaster ride, just as the first four were.
After the completion of the Karachi leg of the series, the teams have moved to Lahore where they will face off in the fifth T20I on Wednesday. Pakistan won the last match, but only by a slender margin of 3 runs. Is it enough to say that they will be the favourites on Wednesday? Probably not.
On paper and going by how they have played so far, it would not be wrong to say that it is England who will be enjoying an edge over their hosts. The Englishmen seem to be in a better space as far as confidence is concerned.
It has to be remembered that England are playing without Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow and yet they hardly seemed to be missing their key T20 players. They have been very competitive, outplaying Pakistan in most key moments.
Buttler, the designated captain, will continue to miss action as England will not risk his calf injury with just about a month to go for the T20 World Cup. In his absence, Moeen Ali has led the team impressively.
The pair of Ben Duckett and Harry Brook have been standout batters for the visitors. While Brook has aggregated 188 runs from four matches at an average of 94, Duckett totals 167 at an average of 55.66. Both sport 150- plus strike rates, with Brookgoing at an impressive 174.07. Pakistan’s batting has been inconsistent. While they seemed out-of-the-world when they chased down a 200-run target without losing a wicket, on other occasions they have looked nervous. Critically for them, Mohammad Rizwan(252 runs) and captain Babar Azam (185 runs) remain their best bets with the bat.
It will be interesting to see if pace continues to be the profitable bowling choice in the Lahore leg too. If it is so, Pakistan will bank on HarisRauf to continue with his fast and furious stuff, while England have a Mark Wood to unleash his missiles.
⚫ Match starts: 8pm IST, liveon Sony Sports Network