Wwelcome to live coverage of the first Twenty 20 between Pakistan and England, the first match England have played in Pakistan since winning the fifth ODI in December 2005 thanks to James Anderson’s four for 48. Today they will be led by Moeen Ali in his fifth game in charge of the side and it is the first of 11 games England will play before their opening T20 World Cup game against Afghanistan at Perth’s Optus Stadium on October 22.
Harry Brook, Phil Salt and Alex Hales, who are all part of the World Cup roster, will have the chance to declare their selection claim for that opening match, while Olly Stone and Ben Duckett will have the chance to lay down markers for the future, even if they go home when Jos Buttler is fit again and Ben Stokes and Liam Livingstone take their place.
Hales, who returns for the first time since his official ban and unofficial exile in the spring of 2019, will play in his 61st international T20. It’s been more than eight years since he made that 64-ball 116 in the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh, but he scored the fifth most runs in the Hundred and in 26 Pakistani Super League innings since 2018, having 895 runs with a average of 37.29 with a pass rate of 145.05. England will feel the absence of Jonny Bairstow sharp, but if Hales can get those long levers in sync on familiar fields both here and in Australia (after his Big Bash feats) they’ll have someone who has an even wider range of powerful punches .
Pakistan has won all six T20s played at the National Stadium since the resumption of overseas tours, but although Babar Azam, the best all-round batsman in world cricket, plays his home games in Karachi, criticism has been mounting after poor results in the Asia Cup on his success rate. Indeed, Lahore Qalanders head coach Aaqib Javed has been bold enough to publicize that his team’s tactic when playing Karachi Kings is to keep him on strike and try not to fire him,” because he is in his own right. tempo playing and the required speed increasing”.
Babar gave short shrift yesterday, but it’s the first time he’s been the butt of something so seemingly disrespectful, even when it comes from his franchise’s most ardent rivals. “The most important thing is to keep believing in yourself,” he said. “People will talk no matter how well you do, but it’s best to ignore all that.”