Having suffered a 0-3 blanking in the Test series, England now head into the ODIs eager to make amends and regain some of their lost pride. On the other hand, Pakistan who have been in splendid form in all forms of the game, will look to add more to their wins tally.
Pakistan: While they have been on top of their game in the Test format, the World Cup semi-finalists have also been very successful in the One-day arena. Since January 2011, Pakistan have played 33 ODIs and have lost only 7 matches, including a loss to India in the 2011 World Cup. Since 2011, Pakistan have secured series victories against Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Ireland apart from winning six games in the World Cup. They also won the only ODI against Afghanistan recently.
Coming to the current series, the Pakistan squad for the five ODIs against England is a very balanced one with the right mix of fine batsmen, quality allrounders and world class bowlers. WhileYounis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq bring their experience into play in the middle order, Pakistan also have talented batsmen like Imran Farhat, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal and Azhar Ali.
The presence of all-rounders like Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik provides the added strength to both batting and the bowling departments although Afridi of late is better known for his exploits with the ball than the bat. In the bowling division, Pakistan have plenty to choose from – fine bowlers like Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Umar Gul are the main pillars in the bowling department while the likes of Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz can also be counted upon to deliver. Overall, Pakistan have a quality side which knows how to perform well in Asian conditions and unless England do something different from the Test series, Misbah’s team are clearly the favourites to take the series.
Recent games: Pakistan played against Afghanistan in an ODI and won by a comfortable margin of 7 wickets with 77 deliveries remaining. Shahid Afridi was the star with the ball, picking up 5/36 while Younis Khan (70*), Imran Farhat (52) and Misbah (40*) did well with the bat.
England: England have been a quality Test side in the last couple of years, barring the series loss against Pakistan. However, the same cannot be said of them in the 50-over format as they have been struggling to feature as one of the top sides in ODIs. Out of 30 ODIs since Jan 2011, England have lost 16 and have only won eleven. In the World Cup, England won 3 matches and lost 3 with one tied game against India. As far as bilateral series are concerned, England managed a series win against Sri Lanka, winning at home against India and losing to the same side while touring the sub-continent and losing to Australia.
Looking at England’s line-up for the series against Pakistan, the arrival of young blood like Craig Kieswetter, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow makes the batting order look sightly refreshing when compared to the Test series. While Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen have an important role to play at the top of the order, Eoin Morgan, who has been quality ODI player, has occupies a crucial position in the middle order.
As far as allrounders are concerned, England have Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan, who have served the country well with both the bat and the ball in the past. The spearheads in the England bowling line-up are Graeme Swann and James Anderson while skipper Cook can also choose from the likes of Steven Finn, Samith Patel and Jade Dernbach. Overall, England have a well-balanced ODI side but considering their not-so-good form in the limited overs format and their inability to perform in Asian conditions, Pakistan hold edge in this series.
Recent games: England recently played a practice match against the England Lions at Abu Dhabi. After bowling out the Lions for 91, England set themselves a nominal target of 231 to get some batting practice, which they achieved in 45.5 overs. Finn and Dernbach picked up 3 wickets apiece while Trott (75*), Cook (68), Pietersen (41) and Bopara (36) found form with the bat.
6: The number of ODIs that England have lost in the UAE. They have played a total of 13 ODIs and have won 7.
107: The number of runs Shahid Afridi requires to become the 7th Pakistan player with 7000 or more ODI runs.
Pakistan (From): Misbah-ul-Haq(c), Abdur Rehman, Aizaz Cheema, Adnan Akmal(w), Azhar Ali,Asad Shafiq, Imran Farhat, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Umar Akmal,Younis Khan, Wahab Riaz, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Hammad Azam
England (From): Alastair Cook(c), Ravi Bopara, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Tim Bresnan, Jonathan Bairstow, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Craig Kieswetter(w), Samit PatelComments: