England v Pakistan 2019: What did we learn about the two teams?
- Take a look at what the just concluded England Pakistan series taught us about the two teams ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
England beat Pakistan by 54 runs in the fifth and final ODI at Leeds to win the series 4-0 despite some late resistance in the form of a 47 run-stand for the last wicket by Pakistan bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain.
England will be satisfied with the series win that saw good performances from every player still in contention for a place in their World Cup squad. While most of their squad is settled, the combination of fast bowlers that will be part of the squad is not completely decided, and all the possible candidates have given a good show of themselves.
Pakistan will be impressed by their batsmen's aggressive approach, scoring more than 300 runs in every innings bar the 297 in the final ODI. However, poor bowling and fielding set them back and left them with more issues to deal with than they would have hoped for.
England have to make some harsh calls in their World Cup squad
England entered this series with a formidable batting lineup and only had to decide their fast bowling combination out of the options of Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, David Willey, Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett, and Jofra Archer.
To complicate things, all of them performed well in the opportunities that they had. Woakes led the bowling with 10 wickets and bowled well with the new ball, followed by Curran with six wickets. Curran also offered reliable death bowling and improved his batting, notably building a partnership with Ben Stokes that ultimately took them closer to winning the fourth game as well an important cameo in the final match of the series.
Plunkett and Willey took four wickets each, with Plunkett especially effective during the middle overs. Willey showcased his death bowling in the second ODI to help win a tense match but appears vulnerable due to his limited capability when the ball does not swing. However, being a left-armer gives him an advantage over his competitors.
Archer and Wood took two wickets apiece and appear to be guaranteed selections given the prospect of two fast bowlers regularly bowling at speeds above 90 mph. Archer is also an excellent option for bowling in the death overs and adds more batting depth to the team.
Joe Denly's selection as a backup spin bowler to Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid under threat, with Eoin Morgan appearing reluctant to bowl him as he could not replicate the control that Moeen and Rashid provide
Jason Roy led the batting with 277 runs, followed by Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root with 211 and 203 respectively. Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan, and Jos Buttler also found some form, with Buttler even getting a chance to captain England when Morgan was suspended for a slow over-rate.
James Vince did not make a score higher than 43 when playing as the backup opener but his selection in the World Cup squad appears assured, especially given that other alternatives such as Sam Billings suffering an injury and Alex Hales losing his spot on disciplinary grounds.
The selectors have some harsh calls to make before Tuesday's final squad announcement, with Willey and Denly appearing to be the most vulnerable at the moment. Barring that uncertainty, the squad appears stable and should be confident of their chances.
Poor bowling and fielding set Pakistan back
Pakistan's 4-0 loss in this series continues a losing streak of ten ODI matches since the decider against South Africa earlier this year.
Any doubts over the ability of their batting to regularly post big totals were banished with their aggressive approach in this series, scoring more than 300 in every innings barring the final ODI.
Babar Azam led the batting charts with 277 runs, including a century and two half-centuries. Openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq also managed one century each, whereas Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez also scored one half-century.
Asif Ali scored 2 half-centuries at a strike rate of 131.48 and his power hitting likely to win him a place in the final World Cup squad.
Imad Wasim was Pakistan's highest wicket-taker with six wickets and was the only frontline bowler to average less than 40 with the ball, albeit barely with 39.33. Shaheen Afridi took five wickets at an average of 49, and Hasan Ali and Mohammad Hasnain managed three wickets each at an average of 87 and 49 respectively. Junaid Khan claimed two wickets at an average of 71.
Alarmingly, none of the visitors' fast bowlers had an economy rate less than seven, which was mostly due to poor bowling during the death bowlers. The scarcity of yorkers throughout the series is another concern for the bowling coaches to work on at the earliest.
Shadab Khan's absence due to illness gave Yasir Shah an opportunity to present his case for World Cup selection but he was dropped after only one match where he bowled with figures of 1-60 to continue his dismal bowling form in ODI cricket.
Mohammad Amir did not play due to chickenpox but has earned a recall into the World Cup squad in light of Pakistan's bowling woes. Amir conceded less than five runs on average for the last two years, even if he took only five wickets in that time.
Faheem Ashraf appears to be the most vulnerable players to make way for Amir, but that will not completely resolve Pakistan's bowling problems.
Their poor fielding also set them back; dropped chances and misfields hurt their chances throughout the series. This was visible in the 4th ODI when Ben Stokes played a crucial knock for England after having his catch dropped.
While the squad is mostly settled and will take heart from their batting approach, they need to resolve their bowling and fielding issues quickly if they are to get far in the World Cup.Published 20 May 2019, 04:07 IST