KARACHI: Pakistan will desperately look to turn the tide when they take on England in a must-win game today. Down 2-0 and in a situation where the best outcome for them would be to save the series, the Pakistanis need to give their best to stop a rampaging England from winning the contest.
Match starts at 05:00 pm (PST)
But the ways things are going, it seems unlikely that Pakistan will be able to counter England’s batting prowess on a venue where the home team once hammered them for 444-3. It was at Trent Bridge in Nottingham – venue for Friday’s fourth One-day International – that the Pakistani bowling attack suffered a bloodbath. The way Pakistan have bowled in the series so far, they seem unlikely to contain the England top-order in today’s game.
England have been a batting powerhouse in recent times, scoring in excess of 300 on a consistent basis in one-day cricket. They haven’t lost a bilateral series at home since conceding a five-match series to Australia 2-3 in September 2015. Moreover, each of their high-scoring efforts in recent times has seen a different architect.
Besides, Ben Stokes showed some sparks of form in the third ODI. The Durham all-rounder had a mediocre IPL season. In Bristol, he scored 37 off 38 balls in England’s successful chase of 359, before being run out.
England will be without regular captain Eoin Morgan, who has been banned from the game due to a slow over-rate offence in the Bristol game. His deputy, Jos Buttler, who had been rested for that match, is expected to return and lead the side. Jofra Archer, who was also rested for the previous two games, might get a look in as well.
Pakistan might have lost the previous two games, but the form of their openers, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, will buoy them in the series decider. With back-to-back fifties, Asif Ali, too, has made a strong case for himself ahead of the World Cup.
Lack of wickets with the new ball was one of the major factors ailing Pakistan in Southampton and Bristol. On both occasions, they had to wait for more than 17 overs to get their first breakthrough – never a good sign against a strong batting line-up such as England’s. The visitors will be eager to get back to winning ways before the World Cup.
For England, Jonny Bairstow will be the key man. The wicket-keeper batsman has carried his rich form from the West Indies tour and the IPL into the series, where he has scores of 51 and 128. His ability to play pace and spin equally well makes him the player to watch out for in Nottingham.
Fakhar Zaman, meanwhile, has been a top performer for Pakistan in the last few years. He scored a blistering 138 in the second ODI. Zaman has a history of performing in these conditions – he set up Pakistan’s triumph in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 with a century in the final. He will be eager to continue his good performances in the fourth ODI, but can it translate into a win for his side, as it had in that epic 2017 final?
England amassed 444-3 and 481-6 in two of their last three completed games at Trent Bridge. Clear skies, minimal chances of rain and short boundaries might just produce another high-scoring entertainer where Pakistan will need their bowlers to give their best to have chance of taking the series in a decider.