Buttler is expected to return to the side for the hosts, and Bairstow is fit despite bruising his finger
Phew, wasn’t that fun? After a three-hour bonanza of six-hitting that felt like a blur later, Pakistan justified their reputation of being predictably unpredictable, seeing off a near full-strength England side with a comfortable 31-run win. Off the back of an ODI series where their worst instincts were more evident, there’s little doubt the T20I series will be a much more tightly-contested affair.
It all just meshed into one, didn’t it? The Babar Azam-Mohammad Rizwan stand that just continued to snowball, the onslaught by Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez, Jason Roy taking Imad Wasim to the cleaners despite supposedly struggling again spin, and Liam Livingstone’s record-obliterating hundred. Of course, the bowlers played their part too, though it might not feel like it at times. Shaheen Afridi bagged the Player-of-the-Match award, Shadab Khan took three priceless wickets despite going for 52, while Mohammad Hasnain allowed just 28 in four overs, a stupendous effort in a game that saw 433 runs scored.
An England win on Friday and Pakistan might have checked out of the tour, but the series is instead poised tantalisingly now. England have to reconcile their desire to test and tinker ahead of the T20 World Cup with staving off a series defeat before they name their squad for the big event. Livingstone, until recently an outsider, suddenly appears central. Meanwhile, a strangely off-colour captain Eoin Morgan must ensure he has to score runs to pull his weight in a side essentially moulded in his image.
They move now to Headingley, another venue that hasn’t exactly been frugal with the runs in the T20 Blast this season. England will probably have few regrets about the way they went about their chase on Friday. That fearless, relentless, attacking approach has brought them most of their success in the past half-decade. However, they might wonder if they acquitted themselves as well with the ball as they should have. In the first half of the innings, they were rather staid and passive, and at the death, there was uncharacteristic waywardness. David Willey at 9.75 was the most economical of the England bowlers, while Pakistan had two – Afridi (9) and Hasnain (7) – who maintained a tighter grip on the runs.
Pakistan don’t really have a central philosophy in quite the same way, but it appears if you throw enough power hitters at the problem, you might just come up with the solution in England. Much like England’s defeat at New Zealand’s hands at the 2015 World Cup became the turning point for England’s white-ball side, could that chastening 3-0 ODI defeat to a second-string England unit mark a similar sliding-doors moment for Pakistan? It’s difficult to imagine the visitors sticking to a long-term plan in quite the same way, but Pakistan seemed to have concluded the only way to beat the home side was to blast past them. There’s no reason what works in the East Midlands shouldn’t work in Yorkshire.
England LWWWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first) Pakistan WWLWW
In the spotlight
It’s difficult to justify when a player goes for 46 in four overs, but there’s a case to be made for Saqib Mahmood to continue to be the bowler Pakistan remain the wariest of. He was arguably the most penetrative up top, representing England’s best chance of removing Babar or Rizwan early, and therefore denting the platform the openers are so fond of creating for the final ten overs. The ODI series demonstrated he can wreak havoc with the new ball, and after allowing the Pakistan openers to pile up 150 in the first T20I, wickets up top are key to derailing the Pakistan innings. There’s no reason Mahmood can’t reprise his ODI heroics in this format.
Azam Khan will have enjoyed watching his team-mates smash England’s bowlers to all parts on Friday, but it’s hard to believe there wasn’t a tinge of envy mixed in with the appreciation. Pakistan had the perfect platform set to launch from, the bowlers weren’t quite hitting their lines, the pitch was an absolute road, and this was Trent Bridge. Azam couldn’t have dreamt of more conducive conditions to make his debut and display his power-hitting prowess. But as it was, he got to face only three balls, and if he is to nestle himself into this side ahead of the T20 World Cup, all his work still lies ahead of him. But Headingley isn’t too far off from the ideal venue for a big hitter either, so should Azam get another opportunity, he shouldn’t have many excuses.
Paul Collingwood, England’s stand-in coach, confirmed that Jos Buttler will return to the side following a calf injury and that Jonny Bairstow is fit to play despite some bruising on his finger when dropping a catch in the first T20I. Moeen Ali could drop out to accommodate Buttler’s return, with Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid – both rested on Friday night – back in contention ahead of England’s selection meeting on Saturday.
England (probable): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (wk), 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Eoin Morgan (capt), 7 Lewis Gregory, 8 David Willey, 9 Tom Curran/Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid/Matt Parkinson, 11 Saqib Mahmood
Pakistan are unlikely to want to tinker much with a side that managed their highest T20I total. Any changes to Friday’s side would be a surprise.
Pakistan: (probable): 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Sohaib Maqsood, 5 Mohammad Hafeez, 6 Azam Khan, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Haris Rauf, 10 Mohammad Hasnain, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi
Pitch and conditions
Dominic Leech’s injury at a soggy Headingley earlier this week might have forced the Roses match into abandonment, but several days of bright sunshine since means those drainage problems should not imperil the second T20I. It’s expected to be bright and sunny in Leeds for the afternoon start. Perfect conditions for T20 cricket.
The average first-innings total in the T20 Blast at this ground is 192, so expect both sides to try and pile on the runs once more.
Stats and trivia
England last lost a home T20I series in July 2018, against India.
Moin Khan and his son Azam are the fifth father-son pair to have represented Pakistan in international cricket. The other four are Nazar Mohammad and Mudassar Nazar, Hanif and Shoaib Mohammad, Majid and Bazid Khan, and Abdul and Usman Qadir.
“We’re desperate to win the games – we’ve got two games to win the series – but there is experimenting going on because we’ve got to give guys opportunities. There’s not many games before the T20 World Cup and you’ve got to give guys opportunities.” England stand-in coach Paul Collingwood weighs up how to balance results while using the series as an audition for the T20 World Cup
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
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