T20I action is set to return for the first time since the lockdown, as England and Pakistan lock horns in a three-match series starting Friday, August 28.
All three matches are scheduled to take place at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester. Below, we preview the first T20I between the two sides.
Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey
Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz.
In the absence of Jos Buttler, the stellar pairing of Jason Roy and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow will open the innings for the home side.
Dawid Malan and captain Eoin Morgan will likely complete the top four, while Sam Billings, Moeen Ali and David Willey will wrap up the batting line-up for England.
In the bowling unit, spinner Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan will retain their spots while Tom Curran and Saqib Mahmood will complete the English tail.
Probable Playing XI: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (captain), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, Tom Curran, Saqib Mahmood.
Captain Babar Azam will open the innings for Pakistan alongside the returning Fakhar Zaman.
The 30-year-old did not feature in Pakistan’s three-match T20I series against Bangladesh but will mark his comeback to the playing XI at Old Trafford.
Veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik will bat at No. 3 and 4 respectively and will also provide skipper Azam with spin-bowling options should he opt to use them.
Hard-hitting Iftikhar Ahmed and experienced all-rounder Imad Wasim will be next in to bat for the visitors and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan will wrap up a strong and deep Pakistani batting line-up.
With a multitude of spin options, Pakistan will likely opt to go with a quartet of pacers, which will include Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain.
Probable Playing XI: Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain.
Showers are expected in the morning and afternoon. However, the weather is expected to be partly cloudy for the duration of the match.
Pakistan's depth and versatility make them one of the best T20I sides in the world.
With England missing Joe Root and Ben Stokes, the visitors certainly look to have the edge.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Randy Brooks
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