A few multiple Covid positive cases did scare the Pakistan series to go on as scheduled with the England squad that played Sri Lanka “full strength” were isolated and ECB overnight managed to get in a new team or say a “string team” to get the Pakistan series underway.
9 new players were given a call up and 5 off them who debuted for game 1 turned out promising and happened to play the entire 3 match ODI series. The 5 debutants were Brydon Carse, Philip Salt, Zak Crawley, John Simpson and Lewis Gregory.
The first odi showed the new look English team is competitive as bowlers set the tone from the start and bowled Pakistan out for 141 and it was Saqib Mahmood to start off who picked up two early wickets including the Pakistan skipper on duck and no sooner did debutant Gregory get in action and had his maiden wicket. Spinner, Parkinson too joined the party and picked up a few wickets with Overton towards to end and managing the middle overs. James Vince, after long in the English side had a good outing with a run out. Debutant, Philip Salt failed with the bat as Pakistan had one early wicket and was all they could manage as debutant Zak Crawley who along with Malan got the runs and England won the first ODI by 9 wickets.
Pakistan a full strength squad you do expect them to perform and do well but Pakistan again disappoint. A couple of early wickets for Pakistan, both who finished the game last time were out on ducks. Philip Salt and Vince now hold on and get England back in the contest. One fell and that got a few more. Pakistan had a work, to wrap up the tail quickly and the England’s total could have possibly ended around 180 but the tail frustrated Pakistan and posted 247. England had the momentum as they walk in to bowl and have a good start. Pakistan got some hold in the middle overs as Shakeel batted quite good but then again one wicket gets many more and they did collapse again but this time the tail added a few runs but England sealed the series and were 2-0 up with that win. Credit to English bowlers who constantly picked up wickets and never let the pressure slip of Pakistan.
Pakistan wish to save a whitewash, the third or final ODI saw Pakistan bat well with some intent and stroke play as opener Iman got going to his half century. Babar Azam controlled the innings and got to his century in England post two failures and Rizwan too followed the footprints of his skipper and attacked well and made fine 74. England with just 3 wickets till the 45th over ended up picking 6 in the next 5 overs and that saw Carse who was having a silent series ended up with a fifer. Babar Azam was dismissed on 158. So, a no show from the lower middle order and tail got Pakistan to 331. Now, Pakistan with 331 had the best chance to save a whitewash and also an early wicket did comfort them. England were out to win and with many small partnerships reach to the target with 6 overs to spare and 3 wickets in bag, it was James Vince century that kept England in the contest and also Gregory’s 77 batting at No. 7. Was a close contest but Pakistan will surely be disappointment with their bowling pack. Pakistan lose 0-3 to England.
The first odi didn’t test the batters much, but when it mattered the most during the 2nd and 3rd ODI they did the job managed a collapse and then got the win respectively. Bowlers have been excellent thought the series, Matt Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood were the ones who have looked finer than before and are making strong case to be in the main England squad. Simpson has been excellent behind the stumps, had few excellent catches diving both sides of the wicket, did present a strong case.
Ben Stokes, first time ever captaining the side in an ODI was very impressive, the field placements and the bowling change ups were quite spot on and was attacking and also the first series as captain takes it 3-0 that speaks volumes. Pakistan will now look at the T20I series and will look to bounce back but what they get to the table will grab sight.
England have announced their squad for the T20I and few familiar faces return, men from the isolated squad return as they complete their 10 day of isolation. Morgan is back and will be captaining the side, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Tom Banton, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy and David Willey are the rest named in the 16 man squad.
The T20I series will begin on the 16th and will surely be an exciting one as few English stars return after the required isolation period and as always unpredictable Pakistan will be watched closely.