Pakistan look to restore confidence with victory in third England T20 – Sport

CARDIFF: To go into the T20 World Cup with their confidence sky high, Pakistan will need to ensure they end up on the winning side in the third Twenty20 International against England on Tuesday.

After their 23-run defeat in the preceding game on Saturday — which followed the abandonment of the opening fixture of the series due to rain — a victory at Sophia Gardens will keep the four-match series, and Pakistan’s chances to win it alive.

Applying finishing touches to their preparation for the showpiece, set to be held in the United States and the Caribbean from June 2, Babar Azam and co. would want to fly to Dallas for their opener against co-hosts US with momentum behind them.

“The next match is crucial for Pakistan to make a comeback in the series,” Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf said in the pre-match press conference on Monday. “Before heading to a mega event like the World Cup, winning a series boosts the team’s morale and confidence.”

Despite a decent show with the ball and a flying start with the bat in the first T20I, Pakistan struggled in the middle overs, which turned the match in England’s favour.

In phases of the game, however, Pakistan claimed dominance over the hosts, which may have given them a clear idea on what they needed to work on with the World Cup around the corner.

“… as a team, we make mistakes and then work on them,” noted Haris. “The England series is not easy, but we will try to play our best cricket and minimise errors. The World Cup is our main focus, and we aim to win it.”

The match also saw Haris make a comeback from an injury break after picking it up during this year’s Pakistan Super League. The right-armer, despite getting hit for 17 in his first over, conceded only as many more in the next three.

While his performance was a reflection of Pakistan’s overall brilliance with the ball against a full-fledge England batting line-up, it also spoke for Haris’ fitness status at a crucial stage of the season.

“Regarding fitness, there were many questions raised, but with the match I played recently, I believe everyone got their answers,” he said. “When I was not part of the team and was undergoing rehab, I had a lot of time to think and work on myself. I analysed where I was going wrong and what I could fix.”

Haris, however, rued Pakistan’s struggles with the bat, but was confident that the team would bounce back.

“We lost one game, but as a team, we are very confident and will try to win the next couple of games before the World Cup,” he said. “We had a good practice session today and have been playing a lot of games recently. It’s important to come back strong before the World Cup.”

BUTTLER OUT

Meanwhile, England captain Jos Buttler has left squad ahead of the third T20I to be with his wife, who is about to give birth to the couple’s third child.

The 33-year-old struck a match-winning 84 as the hosts took a 1-0 lead in Birmingham. But he is now set to miss Wednesday’s game, with vice-captain Moeen Ali in line to lead England.

Ben Duckett could be brought in to open in Buttler’s absence or England could promote Will Jacks from number three after he made 37 off 23 balls in the previous fixture.

If he were to move up the order for England on Tuesday, Jacks would be opening the batting alongside Phil Salt, a player he knows well from their time in franchise cricket.

“I think we’re both very comfortable,” Jacks told Sky Sports. “Me and Phil have played a lot of cricket together — we’ve played franchise cricket together which definitely helps when we come to England.

The 25-year-old added: “We understand each others’ games very well and we’re both that kind of free-flowing, top-order batters everyone has nowadays.”

Jacks recently returned from a stint in the T20 Indian Premier League, where he made a dashing unbeaten hundred to lead Royal Challengers Bengaluru to a nine-wicket win over Gujarat Titans.

Jacks said he hoped to put the on-field “coaching” he received from team-mate and India star Virat Kohli to good use when England bid to retain their T20 World Cup title next month.

“He’s a very good role model. The way he approaches all the training and every aspect of the game off the field, his intensity, everything he does is a 100 percent attention,” Jacks said of Kohli.

“When we were batting together, he was coaching me through there. I learned some valuable things about chasing in that innings and pacing the game, which was really helpful.”

ARCHER REST

England fast bowler Jofra Archer could be rested for the Cardiff match ahead of the Oval finale. Archer has been beset by elbow injuries since his starring role in helping England win the 50-over World Cup in 2019.

But the 29-year-old marked his long-awaited return to international cricket by taking two wickets at Edgbaston after a washed-out series opener in Leeds.

Archer, on his first international appearance for 14 months, and first on home soil since 2020, bounced back from an expensive first over, which went for 15 runs, to finish with 2-28 as Pakistan were dismissed for 160.

Fellow fast bowler Mark Wood is the most likely replacement for Archer but Jacks was pleased to see the Sussex paceman back in international action.

“It’s great for all English fans, even cricket fans all over the world — everyone wants to see him (Archer) bowl,” Jacks said.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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