Ahead of the 3 match ODI series against the impressive Pakistan side, the Englishmen have decided to try out new players. The English side was struck with a wave of the virus after the Sri Lanka series, as 7 members tested positive before the next series and take all in close contact with them into self-isolation. Though this didn’t stop them from continuing with continuing the series, they were forced to make a lot of changes. The 18 player England side now has 9 completely new faces who will be taking on the experienced Pakistan side led by their newly appointed stand-in captain Ben Stokes.
It is a great opportunity for a lot of new players to prove their worth and be permanent members of the squad. There are players in this emergency playing XI who may be playing their first and only international matches in the coming days – men such as Gloucestershire’s David Payne, Middlesex’s John Simpson, one of the most accomplished wicket keepers in the country as of now, who will be the only specialist wicket keeper in the side. Others, such as Somerset’s Lewis Gregory, have found it hard to perform in the limited number of opportunities he has had. His eight T20Is haven’t panned out as they should have for a talented player like him. A 50-over outing gives a lot more scope for meaningful contributions & finally finds his form international.
And then there’s the stand-in skipper, Ben Stokes who fractured his finger in the IPL 2021 season & was supposed to be on rest for another month but had to report to duty due to certain circumstances. He has once again come to the rescue for the nation when he was needed the most, as he always has been. This series will be a huge test as he will be leading an inexperienced team against an in-form Pakistan line-up.
With the sudden change in the squad, Pakistan will now have to change its plans completely. Saqib Mahmood showed his potential in the PSL as he went on to take 12 wickets in his 5 appearances. Babar Azam on the other hand will try to find some form & try to make as many runs as possible.
Cardiff’s pitch turned out to be a two-paced pitch, which bounced a lot at times & stayed extremely low at some in the T20 international against Sri Lanka. Resulting in a low-scoring game where England came out to chase 112. With the chances of rain in the first live match of the English summer, fans may not get to witness a full 50 over match.
With 9 new players who haven’t yet even met in person, England management will have to make tough choices to narrow down the playing XI purely on basis of luck. It will also be interesting to see what role does the skipper play on this side as we have seen him play at all the possible positions throughout his career. Phil Salt and Ben Duckett to take the second opener’s slot alongside James Vince. With the world no.1 T20 batsman and World no.1 T20 all-rounder at number 3 & 4, England will look to deepen the batting order with the inclusion of all-rounders like Jacks and Gregory who can also play the role of the 5th bowler. In the bowling department, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson are likely to be in the mix along with the rest of the options fighting for a spot.
For Pakistan, Saud Shakeel is set to make his debut after losing a chance back in South Africa due to injury. Apart from this, all-rounder, Shadab Khan has been appointed as the vice-captain for this series.
Possible playing XI
England: 1 Phil Salt, 2 James Vince, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Ben Stokes (c), 5 Ben Duckett (wk), 6 Will Jacks, 7 Lewis Gregory, 8 Craig Overton / David Payne, 9 Brydon Carse, 10 Saqib Mahmood, 11 Matt Parkinson
Pakistan: 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam (c), 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 5 Saud Shakeel, 6 Shadab Khan, 7 Faheem Ashraf, 8 Hasan Ali, 9 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Mohammad Hasnain.