Cricket World Cup: England ready to exploit Pakistan’s fragility | Sport


The tournament needed a tight game and it may be just as well that South Africa and Bangladesh provided one for most of the day at the Oval on Sunday because the odds on there being a nail-biter at Trent Bridge on Monday have lengthened.

England produced a competent performance in their opening game against South Africa at the Oval, but the same cannot be said of Pakistan, their opponents, on their first appearance.

Pakistan were bullied and bundled out for a paltry 105 by West Indies in 21.4 overs before some spectators had even managed to gain entry to Trent Bridge, which makes England even stronger favourites on the pitch where they have racked up some monumental scores.

They will seek to allay any complacency with the brief observation that “this is Pakistan”, the side with a reputation for being the most mercurial of the lot. Pakistan may be clutching at that thought as well, even if their plight does not yet resemble that of the cornered tigers of 1992.

England managed to win their opening game batting first, something captains seem keen to avoid in this tournament. There has been much talk about the early 10.30am starts and the toss dictating the course of the matches. It has nothing to do with the clock. Sunrise in my part of the world is around 5am; there is plenty of time to burn off the “early moisture”, which is the pundits’ inevitable observation. However, the nature of the pitches is relevant. There has been a minor sprinkling of grass at the Oval above a dry surface, though this has not deterred South Africa from inserting their opponents on both occasions. Generally, playing the conditions is a good idea.

But at Cardiff on Saturday there was some consternation at how green was the strip provided, which must have prompted a little smile from the New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson, when he won the toss against Sri Lanka. The assumption is that the groundsman was protecting a pitch that will be used again before long – probably when England take on Bangladesh on Saturday. But on this occasion his surface may have made the outcome of the toss too important – though he could point out that the Kiwis did not have much trouble batting on it.

Pakistan looked so fragile against the barrage of short-pitched bowling from West Indies that England may be tempted to follow suit. So they will certainly consider giving Mark Wood an outing, maybe instead of Liam Plunkett, because of his extra pace. The modern fast bowler often has a thankless role – “It looks a really flat surface offering no seam movement so we need your extra pace” – hence the fast bowler tends to be selected on the best batting surfaces. If there is assistance on offer then accuracy is often deemed to trump pace.

Eoin Morgan is not so conservative or hidebound that he has any qualms about changing a winning side. He may be keen to demonstrate he has more or less equal faith in all his pace bowlers. Trent Bridge is no bowlers’ paradise. Recently, anyone who can come away with two for 60 from his 10 overs has been an asset to his captain, though that was not the case when West Indies set to work last week.

Pakistan have fewer positive options. Against West Indies the only player in their camp to experience any sort of boost was Mohammad Amir, who took the three wickets to fall. Their pack may be shuffled, but not with any great confidence. Confidence must be draining away given Pakistan have lost 10 of their past 13 ODIs – two others have been no results.

This represents quite a challenge for their coach, Mickey Arthur. Obviously, he is eager to arrest this decline for all sorts of reasons. One of them relates to the replacement of Trevor Bayliss as England’s coach, a decision that is imminent but off the radar since there is a lot going on just at the moment. Arthur may well be interested in the post, but his CV is being dented by Pakistan’s performances.

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Source link : https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jun/02/cricket-world-cup-england-pakistan-fragility-trent-bridge

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Publish date : 2019-06-02 16:09:00

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