Two days after a hard-earned win against Ireland at Dublin, England will host Pakistan for a T20 International at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. The match is a prelude to a 5-ODI series between the sides, one that will be crucial for both sides before the they mention any change to their provisional World Cup squads.
England have rested some key players, including almost the entire IPL contingency – Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, and Moeen Ali. However, they have picked Jofra Archer, who will – without a doubt – be the centre of attraction.
Pakistan seem to have recovered well after being whitewashed by Australia in the ODIs in the UAE. They have started this tour well, with wins against Kent and Northamptonshire in 50-over matches and against Leicestershire in a 20-over contest.
Pakistan will probably find it difficult in the ODIs, where England are ranked No. 1, but T20 is their format. They are table toppers here, that too by a considerable margin. They will make things difficult for England.
Head to head
England hold a 9-4 advantage over Pakistan in T20Is. The difference comes down to 3-2 on English soil.
The teams had last met at Old Trafford two three years ago, where Wahab Riaz (4-0-18-3), Imad Wasim (4-0-17-2), and Hasan Ali (4-0-24-2) restricted England to 135/7. Sharjeel Khan (59*) and Khalid Latif (59) then helped Pakistan cruise to a 9-wicket win with 31 balls to spare.
Jofra Archer (England): A lot has been written on Archer's omission from the provisional World Cup squad. After having a wonderful IPL, Archer is now set out to send a message to the selectors. He impressed against Ireland with his pace and canny variations, but this will be difficult.
Babar Azam (Pakistan): Ranked No. 1 among T20I batsmen, Babar's consistency in this format has next to none – not even Virat Kohli's – over years. Expect another fifty from the man who has scored 9 in 29 T20I innings. There is a reason Somerset have signed him up for this season's T20 Blast.
England: Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Joe Denly, Ben Foakes (wk), David Willey, Tom Curran, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett.
Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain.
While T20 is Pakistan's format, England will play at home, where history backs them. The hosts will take field as favourites.