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England vs Pakistan T20I Preview: The hosts start as the underdogs

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T20 internationals are set to mark their return when England take on Pakistan on August 28 at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, England.

This will be the first T20I between two Test-playing nations since March 11, when Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe by nine wickets in the second of their two-match T20I series. Neither England nor Pakistan have played a T20I in over 200 days, making this an intriguing watch.

Below, we look at how each side could potentially fare in this match and who might have the upper hand.

England

With Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes already out, England suffered another huge blow on the eve of the first T20I as opener Jason Roy has been ruled out of the series as well, owing to an injury.

With Roy out, the onus will fall on either Tom Banton or Joe Denly to open the England innings alongside Jonny Bairstow in the first T20I. Banton has played in three T20Is since his debut in 2019 and scored just 56 runs, while Denly has played 12, scoring a measly 91 runs at a poor strike-rate of 91.

Given their records, Banton will certainly be the one opening the innings with Bairstow. However, neither player inspires much confidence heading into the first T20I.

A lot will depend on Eoin Morgan as not only the captain of the side but also as a batsman. The 33-year-old has been terrific since the start of 2019 in T20Is. The England skipper has scored 404 runs at a tremendous average of 50.50 and an incredible strike-rate of 171.91 in 12 outings with the bat.

He also boasts of a brilliant record against Pakistan, with 300 runs in 12 innings at a good average of 42.85. Morgan will be England’s lynchpin with the bat and the skipper will have to lead his side by example during this series.

Pakistan

Despite their woeful record against England in T20Is (four wins in 14 matches) and poor showings in T20Is since the start of 2019 (three wins in 12 matches), Pakistan will start this series as the favourites.

The visitors have a brilliant record in England in T20Is, having won nine of the 14 matches. Their deep and versatile bowling line-up gives them the upper hand in this series.

Pacer Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi have economies of under 7.5 and a strike-rate of under 19 in England, making them a potent duo against a rather inexperienced English batting order.

Spinner Imad Wasim has a terrific record in England, having picked 15 wickets at an economy rate of 6.11 and a strike-rate of just 14.80. Veteran Mohammad Hafeez too, has an economy of under 7.5 in England and a strike-rate of just over 20.

With so many options at his disposal, skipper Babar Azam is spoilt for choice and as long as he gets his bowling combination right, the numbers back Pakistan in this series.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Geoff Caddick

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