WICKET! Malan run out [Hafeez] England 74-2
WICKET! Bairstow c&b Imad 2 (England 3-1)
Babar Azam has won the toss
Welcome back to the strangest international summer, Manchester again the venue for the first of three T20s between England Pakistan. Now, remember, when these matches were fixtured, they were set to be just before October’s World Cup in the shortest form of the game. Of course, that’s no longer. However, there’s no doubting how much this means to players who have had so little to do in 2020.
Especially the Pakistan white-ball specialists. While their colleagues in the Test arena have been slugging it out over the last month, they have been stuck in the nets waiting for their opportunity to make this trip worthwhile. It isn’t quite the same for England, but this is the second time they have been locked away for a series this summer and it starts to take a toll after a while. Still, they’re here now.
For the hosts, the big news is that they will be without Jason Roy, who injured his side when batting during the week. This has led to him also ruling himself out of the Indian Premier League. The expectation is that the opener will be back for the Australian series beginning this time next week, but there’s nothing certain. It’s likely that this will open the door to a Banton/Bairstow opening combination.
It is safe to assume that at least four and up to six of the Pakistan tourists will be making the jump from red to white ball in the space of four days, including skipper Babar Azam who is the top ranked T20 batsman in the world. It’ll also be interesting to see Sarfraz Ahmed back in operation, returning to his position behind the stumps after being dropped from the Test captaincy last year. Or maybe they’ll stick with Rizwan in that job and the veteran will miss out? We’ll know in 15 minutes.
What seems certain is that we will see both Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz with the new ball in their hands when the time comes. In the case of the former, he is no longer available for Test selection so this becomes his main, and only, stage. Shaheen Afridi will also be there, so that makes three southpaw quicks. Fun! Drop me a line at any stage, of course, I’m here all night. Back with the toss shortly.