Pakistan eager to face full-strength England in second T20I – Sport

BIRMINGHAM: With their first of the four Twenty20 Internationals against England washed out on Wednesday, Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman is looking on the bright side.

“A three-match series is likely to end up with a result in favour of one side, there’s no chance of a 2-2 draw,” he quipped during the press conference on the eve of the second match, which is set to be held at Edgbaston on Saturday.

Just like Fakhar’s perspective, the conditions, unlike how they were at Headingley in Leeds three days ago, will be bright, perfect for cricket, with weather forecast suggesting negligible chances of rain.

The flamboyant southpaw’s positive outlook reflected the energy in the Pakistan camp, the team having seemingly wrapped their head around the modern style of playing the T20 format after shows of relentless aggression in the recent series against Ireland.

Pakistan’s squad for the T20 World Cup, which starts next week in the United States and the West Indies, was also confirmed on Friday, putting Babar Azam and co. in complete preparation mode for the showpiece.

Fakhar said there couldn’t have been better opponents than title-holders England to warm-up for the big challenge.

“They are one of the best teams in the world,” he noted. “We’re really excited for the game.

“Playing against England in their home conditions, I think this is the best preparation for us going to the World Cup, playing against a tough team.”

Pakistan’s run-in to the T20 World Cup started with five games against New Zealand at home and Ireland away. While they drew 2-2 with a depleted BlackCaps side, the 2022 finalists beat Ireland 2-1.

England’s quality, in comparison to both New Zealand and Ireland, is clearly higher, and that they are set to field their first-choice team is going it make it highly competitive for Pakistan.

The hosts even have express pacer Jofra Archer back in their ranks.

“We are playing with a full-strength team of England which is a very good thing for us,” Fakhar remarked. “And while having Jofra in the team will help England, it will also help us as we will get to play a world-class bowler.”

In both their wins against Ireland, Pakistan chased down targets maintaining strike-rates of more than 10 runs per over, which was uncharacteristic of a side known to take games deep.

Pakistan’s style of wrapping up the games two to three overs earlier boosted the side’s confidence, which Fakhar said they wanted to carry into the England matches and then the World Cup.

“Look, if you see strength-wise, our team is very good and strong,” he observed. “And our team has a mindset that we have to play attacking cricket from now on. So, in my opinion, we have a lot of chances.

“We will carry this momentum in this series as well. If you are in form, you got to prolong it.”

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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