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CT 2017, 1st Semifinal, ENG v PAK Preview: Hosts England wary of Pakistan threat

England are expected to make light work of Pakistan but they should be wary about the unpredictable nature of the Men in Green.

Adil Rashid England
England’s Adil Rashid celebrates with teammates. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

England has been the only side which has played like an invincible team in the eight-nation tournament thus far. They were the first team to qualify for the semifinal after winning all three league games. Pakistan struggled to get to terms with an Indian side yet again but produced magically performances in their last two group game to seal a spot in the last four.

England are the form team, who have played an aggressive brand of cricket in this tournament. Whenever their top order hasn’t fired, the middle order has come to their rescue. The coming of age of Ben Stokes has really helped England. Morgan’s own form has been brilliant during the course of the tournament. They have backed their struggling opener Jason Roy, who is expected to come good sooner rather than later. Spin twins Rashid and Moeen have bowled well in tandem, despite losing Chris Woakes early in the tournament, the rest of the fast bowlers have responded well to the challenge. All in all, England are fancied to lift the tournament and hence start favourites for this game.

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Pakistan has always displayed shades of brilliance wherever they have played. The Men in Green possess a lot of talent but lack in transforming that talent into performances. But they have been in fine form in the last two games where they have beaten South Africa and Sri Lanka. Their brand of cricket can give England a run for their money. They have quality in their bowling and Amir, Junaid and Hasan Ali are in great form collectively picking 8 wickets in the last game. The unpredictable nature of Pakistan have surprised and shocked big sides in the past and England must be wary of them.

Toss: Pakistan won the toss and elected to field first

Sarfraz Ahmed: We will bowl first today. It looks like a good wicket, hopefully it won’t change today. Mohammad Amir is not playing today

Eoin Morgan: We don’t mind, had we won the toss we would have batted first. Pakistan managed to chase in the last game. The groundsmen have done fantastic job. The wicket looks good. I think you got to be prepared, on their day they can beat any side. They are a strong side and they would ike to produce their best. Jason Roy misses out and Jonny Bairstow comes in.

Playing XI:

Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Imad Wasim, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan

England: Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan(c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler(w), Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball

Focus will be on

Ben Stokes

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been in outstanding form with the bat ever since he scored that magical hundred for RPS in the IPL. The stylish left-hander has 3 ODI centuries to his name out of which, 2 have come in the last three games. He is the in sublime touch and will hold the key for England in this important game. His bowling has been average in this competition but he has enough ability to turn it around soon. Stokes has improved drastically as a death bowler over the last couple of years. His skipper Eoin Morgan showered praise on the all-rounder saying that Stokes has come a long way as a cricketer.

Shoaib Malik

Malik has scored just 42 runs in three innings but his average in 2017 with the bat has been a high 57.16. The 35-year old brings experience and stability in the batting order and that is what the need of the hour for Pakistan is. He must take responsibility and utilise his good form which will benefit his side. Malik has great ability to graft the singles and the twos and can later destroy any attack with his wide range of attacking strokes. Sarfaraz hasn’t used Malik’s off-spin too much but because there are a few left-handers in the English middle order, the Pakistan skipper can get a few cheap overs out of the all-rounder.

Team Combinations:

England

Jason Roy might find it difficult to retain his position in the side. He has 68 runs in the last 9 innings where he has failed to cross 20 even once. It will be interesting to see if England will show faith in him again for this knockout clash. Hales and Root have been in decent form and are certainties in the XI. Morgan and Stokes have established themselves as trusted middle order batsmen in the side. Jos Butler and Moeen Ali are great strikers of the ball who can push the ante towards the slog overs. Adil Rashid along with Moeen will be the two spinners in the side. Plunkett, Mark Wood and Jake Ball will be the three fast bowlers in the side. England will be tempted to include Jonny Bairstow in the XI instead of Roy.

Pakistan

Pakistan too are unlikely to change their XI from their last game. Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman is a perfect opening combination as they are a left hand-right hand combination. Both provided the right start in Pakistan’s pursuit of 237. Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafez and Shoaib Malik will occupy the No. 3, 4 and 5 slots. Sarfaraz, after playing the innings of his life, will be responsible for playing positive cricket in the lower middle order along with Imad Wasim. Fahim Ashraf had a decent debut and will hold on to his place in the side. The pace battery will be looked after by Hasan Ali Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir.

 

Stat Attack

5 – runs required by Eoin Morgan to complete 5,000 ODI runs for England. He will be the third Englishmen to achieve this feat.

3 – wickets required by Moeen Ali to complete 50 ODI wickets.

1 – win required by England to complete 50 ODI wins against Pakistan. Since 1974, both sides have played each other in 81 ODIs with Pakistan managing to win 30 out of them.

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